North Cray residents oppose public open space sell off.

Letter to local residents from the North Cray Residents Association

Dear member

This is to further update you on Bexley’s plan to possibly sell off two pieces of Highway land in North Cray:  that outside No. 95 The Grove and a long strip running along St James Way/North Cray Road.

Below are links to the marked up drawings provided to me this week by the Parks and Open Spaces department.  In their covering letter they say that this proposal is at an early stage, no final decision on the disposal of any sites has yet been taken, and that even if the principle of disposal were to be agreed by full Council at its meeting on 4 March the sites will be subject to detailed technical evaluation and further public consultation before any decision is taken (at this meeting Bexley agreed the recommendations for its 2015-16 Budget and the debate can be seen on its web cast).  Bexley’s reason for possibly selling off the open spaces and highway land on its current hit list of 27 sites is to reduce maintenance costs.  Its argument is that “Slightly reducing the number of green areas for which we are responsible will allow us to maintain a reasonable level of grounds maintenance, to provide facilities within the parks and a diverse landscape with a range of habitats for biodiversity”.

How significant are the maintenance costs for the small patch of grass verge outside No. 95 The Grove – especially as I understand that local residents in the area more often than not cut the grass on their verges whilst doing this for their own front garden?

How significant are the costs for maintaining the beautiful strip of highway land lying between St James Way and the North Cray Road (close to the High Beeches Conservation Area), with its mature trees and Spring plantings made over the years?  What would be the effect on this as a habitat if it were to be sold off and perhaps developed in some way?  What would be the effect on the visual environment of the people living in St James Way or driving along the North Cray Road?

What might be included in any future hit list?  We are extremely worried about this, too, particularly if it were to include further sections of the grass verges with mature trees that run along both sides of the North Cray Road.  We lost our Village when the dual carriageway was built some 30 years ago and so this makes these grass verges and mature trees even more special to local people.

Bexley selling off any of these pieces of highway land is not acceptable. Nor would adopting, as an alternative, any savage ‘scorched earth’ approach to reduce maintenance costs.  Have a look  a look at the following Link which shows the appalling way in which Bexley reduced its maintenance costs on the banks of Wyncham Stream in Sidcup:-

We must all be on our guard against any similar budget-driven activity here in North Cray.

Jean Gammons

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