Brockwell Park has been awarded Lambeth’s first-ever Green Heritage award in the annual Keep Britain Tidy Green Flag awards.
The awards, which have been running for more than 20 years, signify that a green space “has the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities”.
Fourteen of the borough’s parks and open spaces now have a Green Flag award, two more than last year.
They include Brockwell Park, Myatt’s Fields Park, Streatham Rookery and West Norwood Cemetery.
There were a Green Flag community award for Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses and Brixton’s Windmill gardens.
Brockwell Park’s Green Heritage award recognises the park’s importance in terms of its history and landscape.
Sonia Winifred, Lambeth council cabinet member for equalities and culture, said: “We are absolutely delighted to hear that we now have 14 Green Flag awards, the highest ever number we’ve had, as well as three Green Flag Community awards.
She said Brockwell Park’s Green Heritage award was testimony to its importance as “a priceless heritage asset” and that the borough’s growing collection of awards was “a public celebration of the dedication and hard work put in by residents and staff towards maintaining its green spaces”.
The awards come at a time of concern from politicians and park users over Lambeth council’s events policy which envisages greater use of its open spaces to make money from events.
At last night’s (19 July) council meeting Conservative councillor Louise Nathanson asked Cllr Winifred why the Winterville Festival would be allowed to take over a large area of Clapham Common (which is not on the Green Flag list) at the end of the year, despite the objections of residents.
In her report to the annual meeting of Brockwell Park Community Partners in May this year, chair Ann Kingsbury said that large events in the park “continue to vex us”.
She said that after the Found festival in 2015, the park management team – made up of local groups and council officers – agreed proposals to deal with the worst aspects of the event, litter, crowd control, vehicle management and drug dealing.
Last year EventLambeth had agreed that these proposals would apply to all large gated events in the park. “But,” she went on, “when the Sunfall festival took place last year, just before the country show, these conditions were not applied. We have not had a satisfactory explanation for this.”
Friends of Brockwell Park, commenting on Lambeth council’s events policy, said that its planned eight major “commercial event days” per park “appears to have been chosen only to meet financial targets”.
The Friends said that the “build-up and break-down” time for an event could be as much as seven days – meaning a park could have limited access for up to 56 days during three summer months.
There has also been criticism of the use of the park for other commercial events like organised runs.
The staff and volunteers who take care of Brockwell Park also have to deal with repeated cases of vandalism, the most recent of which was damage inside Brockwell Lido.
Full list of Lambeth’s award-winning sites for 2017:
Green Flag award: Archbishop’s Park; Brockwell Park; Eardley Road Sidings Nature Reserve; Hillside Gardens Park; Kennington Park; Milkwood Community Park; Myatt’s Fields Park; Palace Road Nature Garden; Ruskin Park; St. John’s Churchyard; St. Paul’s Churchyard; Streatham Rookery; Vauxhall Park; and West Norwood Cemetery.
Green Flag Community award: Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses; Eden at St. Paul’s Churchyard; and Windmill Gardens.
Green Heritage award: Brockwell Park.
The awards scheme is run by the environment charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Winners must apply each year to renew Green Flag status.
The charity says a Green Flag community award recognises quality sites managed by voluntary and community groups and that Green Heritage site accreditation is judged on the treatment of the site’s historic features and the standard of conservation.