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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

St Marks Church war memorial upgrade

20 Dec

St Marks Church war memorial has been upgraded and people will now be able to approach it more easily. I do have some reservations about the upgrade though:

(1) It might have been better if they used traditional York stone to match the traditional church pathways. Perhaps the new paving stones might look better when they age but at the moment, the churchyard hard paving areas are becoming a patchwork of different materials,

(2) As a point of principle, if a grass area is paved over, it would be nice to offset that by freeing up some existing hard paves areas for planting/grassing over (That misnamed “Kennington Oval greenspace” opposite the Oval Station).

I understand some benches will be coming but in the mean time, here are some pictures to mark the progress so far.

 

Dorset Road has the best local green wall

30 Jul

Dorset Road Green WallIf you happen to be around the area, take a walk down Dorset Road and you will see this fine example of a green wall.

I’m not sure on the practicalities of installing and maintaining one of these walls but I will be watching this one with interest to see how it evolves over the coming years.  It is certainly better than a bland rendered wall and I only wish they extended it down to the ground if only so that we can take a closer look at how it works.

 

Do you know a garden in need of a makeover?

19 Jun

Do you know any local residents in the Oval Ward area in need of a garden makeover or horticultural advice from experts?

Sam Wildman from Plum Pictures has been in contact and asked us to get the message out about a new Channel 4 TV gardening series.  The key points are:

  • Opportunity for residents in the Oval ward to participate in a brand new TV series for Channel 4.
  • Mary Portas and Channel 4 are bringing together a team of retired people with a wealth of skills and experience to provide professional gardening services throughout London, including Oval.
  • If you’ve got any ideas, e-mail work@plumpictures.co.uk

I nominate anyone with Japanese Knotweed around the Offley Road area for starters.  Then there’s the best(?) local wisteria that needs to be taken to a new level.  How about some native bluebells to replace the Spanish hybrid types epidemic in the area?  Get your thinking caps on and get the word out.  Here are some pictures to inspire everyone.

 

Red List (?) Bumble Bee at Kennington Park Keepers Lodge

16 Jun

Rare bumble bee at Bee UrbanThis wild bumblebee was spotted today at the Kennington Park Keeper’s Lodge. Bee Urban were having one of their regular open days and I was asked to take a photo of it because this particular species – the buff tailed bumble bee – is on a watch list.

Lambeth have recently applied to have the Keepers’ Lodge demolished as part of the Northern Line Extension work. It remains to be seen how this will affect local wildlife – bees in particular.

 

Survey of street furniture

28 May

Street furniture – lamp posts, parking signs, parking bollards etc. – is something that most poeple take for granted.  After a while, you don’t even notice them.   I did a survey of 10 residential streets around the Oval area and found that on average each street has some 47 items of street furniture and 11 planted trees.  Here is a summary of the results

STREET FURNITURE ITEM TOTAL Per cent
Total items of street furniture 467 100%
  Lamp posts 94 20.1%
  Dedicated parking signs and machines 146 31.3%
  Bollards 113 24.2%
  Signage (Road names, safety and directions) 45 9.6%
  Telegraph/utility poles 7 1.5%
  Utility boxes 19 4.1%
  Cycle rails 4 0.9%
  Post boxes 2 0.4%
  Public telephones 0 0.0%
  Waste bins 2 0.4%
  Pedestrian crossing related (including railings) 35 7.5%
STREET PLANTING
Trees 110

[Note: Trees are shown seperately on the basis that the area would have had trees growing naturally before roads and houses were built.]

Most bollards are parking related in that they have been put their to prevent cars mounting pavements.  The survey therfore suggests that more than half of all street furniture are parking related – at least in parking controlled areas.  The next time you are out and about take a few moments to count the items of street furniture in your street.  Perhaps you can see some ways to reduce clutter and improve the environment.  If you do, submit your ideas to the Lambeth Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme.

 

Do secure cycle sheds reduce number of cars?

25 May

It is probably a little early to tell but I get the impression that the new secure cycle sheds appearing around the neighbourhood may be starting to reduce the number of cars on the street.

The picture below shows the parking situation in Handforth road around one of the secure cycle sheds in Handforth Road.  Here is the corresponding google streetview taken before the new secure cycle sheds were installed.  Of course this is not a scientific comparison and any apparent improvement may be wishful thinking but this is a useful informal check on how things might be changing.  No doubt local residents will be better placed to know the actual impact.Parking around secure cycle shed Handforth Road

The following link shows a map of local secure cycle parking sheds which are managed by Cycle Hoop. A cycle parking space currently costs £42 per year with a £25 deposit.   In contrast, a car parking permit can cost anything between £0 and £260 with a mid range car costing £149.50 per year.  Although parking a cycle is cheaper than most car parking permits the pricing does not yet seem equitable.  One car takes up the space off about 6 cycles (see note) so that implies cycles are being charged at a rate of approximately £252 (6 x £42) per car parking space year.  This is near enough the same as the highest emisssion car.  I appreciate secure car parking would be even more expensive but if we are to encourage more people to use cycles the pricing needs to improve.  Perhaps they could subsidised with fines on those who are caught stealing/vandalising bikes!

Note: Since writing this, I went out and checked the size of those sheds.  Each unit has space for six cycles which takes up the space of a very small car.  Arguably, the calcuation should be nearer 12 x £42 not 6 x £42 but the point remains the same.  Cycles are being charged at a rate as high if not higher than a large high emission car.  As things stand, residents in some streets might be better off with a bank of Barclays cycle hire bikes. (£2 per day for ad hoc use or £90 per year if you can keep each trip under 30 minutes.).     

 

 

The best local green roof?

21 May

At first glance the picture below looks like a simple garden. Click on the picture for a closer look and you will see that it is a roof.

The Bee Urban hut on the Keeper’s Lodge site in Kennington Park has what is perhaps the best local green roof. It is certainly an excellent example and well worth a close look if you are planning something similar. Unfortunately, this particular green roof may not be around for much longer. It is due for demolition along with the Keeper’s Lodge (on right of picture) because of Transport for London plans for the Northern Line Extension whihc involve building a ventilation and emergency access ‘head house’ on the site.

Bee Urban - green roof and park lodge

 

Kennington Park Lodge to be demolished and thriving bee colony removed in favour of blot on the landscape?

19 May

Bee Urban - Checking the hives and park lodgeToday I visited a Bee Urban open day at Kennington Park lodge site.  The site is due to be demolished if current Transport for London plans for a permanent shaft at Kennington Park go ahead.

Current plans require demolition of the existing Kennington Park Lodge, shown here, and the closure/removal of a thriving bee colony. The shaft is required to provide ventilation and emergency access for the proposed Northern Line Extension.   Although a community hall is to be built,  it remains to be seen whether the site would be ever suitable for a bee colony again – large ventilation shafts and bees probably don’t mix.

Of the design, TfL have this to say:

“The designs of the head house and community building have been informed by consultation with the public, local community groups, the local authority and English Heritage.”

An interesting choice of words.  The proposed design results in a loss of green space and builds right up to the boundary of the park.  As design is a subjective matter, I will leave it to readers to check the designs.

Given the current state of public finances, I was a little surprised that TfL seem to have gone for the most expensive solution for this site.  The main shaft is to be dug in the adjacent ‘dog walking area’.  Instead of building the head house over that shaft, they are tunneling sideways 20 metres or so and then putting the head house where the Kennington Park lodge is. No doubt dog owners might not like the head house in the dog walking area but there may be better things to spend money on.

Here are some more pictures of the Bee Urban/Kennington Park Lodge site.

 

 

 

 

Have you visited the ‘Oval Quarter’ yet?

15 May

The Oval Neighbourhood has arguably just expanded with the launch of the 12 hectare (120,000 square metres)  ‘Oval Quarter’development     It is most of the area between Cowley, Akerman, Mostyn, Patmos and Cancell Roads.  Here is a map.

I had look around the site on Tuesday and was pleasantly surprised.  Although work is still in progress, the ‘Oval Quarter’ looks like this is going to be  a welcome addition to the area bringing more homes and jobs and making the area safer.  There were a number of things that I particularly like about this development.

  • 7 of the 12 heactares will be green space  (wish they had that green space ratio in the VNEB area)
  • Good quality build  (I like the steel structure – a better option than modern timber frame construction)
  • A return to more traditional street designs (they help reduce street crime) 
  • Cycles are being encouraged and cars discouraged
  • District heating scheme (always wondered what those ‘submarines’ on Akerman Road were for!)
  • An innovative below ground waste disposal system (will write more about this as other parts of the neighbourhood might benefit from this approach!!)

Here are some pictures.  The first is a panoramic shot back in 2010 before the works had started in earnest.  The rest were taken on Tuesday.

 

Van Gogh Walk and Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme

28 Apr

Lambeth are to be congratulated on their steet improvements to Van Gogh Walk (Vincent Van Gogh – the artist of sunflower fame – lived in Hackford Road for a while). The area is an excellent example of how local residential environments can be improved with a relatively modest investment. When pedestrians are given greater priority in this way, it makes the area much safer for children, cyclists and residents as cars are forced to slow down. Another benefit is that crime is likely to reduce. Anything that encourages the community to get out of their homes and take ownership of their streets the safer they are likely to become.

Lambeth are currently consulting on their Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme and have invited views from local communities as to what is wanted. Many people will just ask for pot holes to be repaired but it would be nice to see something similar to Van Gogh Walk being rolled out to various areas around the neighbourhood. The Claylands Road area, the Wheatsheaf centre, Vauxhall City Farm and many other areas would benefit from this approach.