Heathfield – reduction in access for public use of the grounds

SPRA has written to our Councillors as follows

Heathfield – a ‘phoney’ consultation?

Some of you may be aware that there are changes afoot at Heathfield. Somewhat ‘under the radar’ the Council launched a consultation about the lease of Heathfield House to a local private school, Cressey College.  This would appear be to the detriment of visitors to the gardens, and to the Ecology centre which operates there.  SPAN has featured Heathfield regularly (see August SPAN), as we know it receives many visits from Spring Park residents, even though it is outside our membership zone.

In particular, we understand the impact of the plan on visitors to the gardens will include closure of toilet facilities; to the Ecology centre: the loss of indoor space for nature study visits from Croydon schools and removal of storage space for exhibition, catering and bazaar equipment;  to the community : loss of a corporate venue for meetings and events.

Disability access for all groups will be affected by the removal of the only level route for wheelchairs to the rock garden.

A further concern for SPRA is the process of consultation over the plans. It is true that the statutory announcement was made via the Croydon Guardian in mid-June, with the consultation closing on 9 July.  Many Residents Associations including SPRA were thus unaware of the plan and unable to respond.

At a time of far-reaching changes required to offset the effects of the Council’s mismanagement of its finances, it is essential that consultations are open and transparent. We applaud the Council on achieving this so far in the reorganisation of the Libraries. It is very regrettable that the process with Heathfield House seems to have fallen so far short. This instance of poor communication deepens the lack of trust residents have in the Council, a lack which needs to be urgently reversed.

SPRA has written to our Ward Councillors and to our MP to express dissatisfaction over the process and with further questions about how much they were aware in advance of this proposal.

Footnote – see also letter on page XXXX

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