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Topic: Gunnersbury Park - What if.....
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Posted by: Alistair Milward
Date/Time: 23/04/13 12:52:00

Thought I would peel away from the debate around the park being under threat of development by a commercial enterprise and see if we can get something going on the subject of - "INSTEAD"
Picking up on the anger felt by some at the thought of a Labour Council waving through a scheme that flies in the face of the state education system and ignores social "ownership" of an asset.
Noting the affront felt by those inextricably linked to the covenant under threat and how for them there is no getting around the fact that it exists and in perpetuity.
Also sensing that there are observers out there who whilst they may not sympathise they do acknowledge the woeful state of local authority finances. That, politics aside, the administrators/managers of the park have boxed themselves into a corner having let the park and its buildings become so run down over the years for one reason or another.

The facts are that the populations of Hounslow and Ealing come to around 590,000 and in Ealing there are around 50 dependants for every 100 working age people compared to a London average of 45-odd. You can make some assumptions on the council tax per household and what that means in terms in the per capita/domicile levy that a capital intensive project such as a restoration and refurbishment of the Parks buildings might entail. And whatever your own answer comes out to you can imagine what a complicated political "sell" that might be even if it were just one council managing the parks affairs.
So, would it or would it not be fair or safe to assume that the two councils will struggle massively to come up with a golden egg/solution for Gunnersbury Park. Could they hope to find a solution that realistically enables them to retain the park's status quo and by that I mean keeping it as - 100+acres of green with a collection of fine buildings for the enjoyment of many but in practice the pleasure of but a few?

Now to the What if...?

What if there were no council involvement? Instead a Trustee body were created to manage the "estate" with the help of a grant from the councils which would be in the order of £300,000 to £450,000 (I think those were the last figures I saw in a budget for the Park). If the buildings were in good nick and the landscaping sorted that would be enough to have the railings painted, the bins emptied, the grass cut, the lines painted etc etc. But the buildings are all in a sorry state so what is to be done? Where are the many, many millions to be found to fix them? Lottery? Sports Council grant? Brentford FC? London Assembly? Any number of those options put forward by those costly consultants - they are all chip-ins, contributions. There is a huge shortfall and that, they have proposed, is made up by triggering a perfecting legal planning solution (covenant notwithstanding). Its called Enabling Development and it translates into flats and houses in the South West corner. Well, thats just for this decade but in 30 years time when the buildings need a further injection of capital the land bank (park) probably puts up another 10 acres in the South East. Its relatively easy to see that the 200 years  - that people keep mentioning - of being deprived of the small mansion to look at is the equivalent of getting rid of 40 or so acres of park to pay for the upkeep. Does that make any sense?

Devils advocate. What if there were no buildings? What if we petitioned English Heritage and said - we can't bring ourselves to sell to a developer (Alpha); our councils can't afford to restore them; we don't want to build on the park to pay for it either so if they can't be used let's just flatten them. No point just looking at a building - even less point looking at a building clad in scaffolding with big signs saying "KEEP OUT" plastered all over it. The General Public can't really enjoy the buildings - Large Mansion museum is nice enough, could be improved but its just a ground floor. Not allowed upstairs. Orangery,closed and empty, Temple open for school visits; Victorian kitchen ditto; stables "danger keep out"; bathhouse closed; Small Mansion closed. Take these away and you have some sports facilities to keep maintained, a playground to smarten up, a pond to keep clean etc. I guess that that is what happens when a private enterprise takes a look at a building in the park the councils say to themselves - Oh good, getting rid of something that nobody uses.

I'll just leave it here for now and see if anyone else wants to come in with some thoughts? I've tried to provoke debate and not be prescriptive as I think that its too easy to take pot shots at the Councils and just a bit more useful to try and work out what we could realistically do and do better than the elected people.

Entire Thread
TopicDate PostedPosted By
Gunnersbury Park - What if.....23/04/13 12:52:00 Alistair Milward
   Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....24/04/13 12:04:00 Anthony Waller
      Re:Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....24/04/13 12:25:00 Alistair Milward
   Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....24/04/13 12:12:00 Michael Brandt
      Re:Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....24/04/13 12:42:00 Alistair Milward
   Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....26/04/13 13:32:00 Bela Cunha
      Re:Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....26/04/13 14:33:00 Alistair Milward
         Re:Re:Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....26/04/13 15:28:00 Hazel Dakers
         Re:Re:Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....26/04/13 15:33:00 Bela Cunha
            Re:Re:Re:Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....26/04/13 17:04:00 Kath Richardson
               Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....26/04/13 19:05:00 Michael Brandt
                  Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....26/04/13 19:57:00 Hazel Dakers
                     Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....26/04/13 21:22:00 Michael Brandt
                        Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Gunnersbury Park - What if.....04/05/13 12:07:00 John Colwell

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