The following content is all about Haringey Council’s resurfacing project for Parkland Walk.
1 November 2023
The first of five planned workshop meetings with Haringey Council project officers took place on Wednesday evening, 1st November. We were there along with representatives of residents groups, disability groups and councillors covering all four Haringey wards. The ward councillors are present to represent their constituents who have shared their concerns and are not part of the project team.
Due to the format of the meeting (half was given over to explaining the co-design process) it wasn’t possible to ask all the questions that we have been given but please be assured we will look for the answers and commitments at the appropriate point.
Here are the main points:
- It was stated that the approach to carry out localised repairs was not off the cards. That is the option which we believe is the correct approach and in line with the views expressed in the public consultation and by our members.
- It was agreed the project officers should carry out a complete path survey mapping out and rating the path condition, something which has not been carried out to date.
- Many participants were not sent all the relevant documents such as the 2021 SINC* review and the 2022 Accessibility Audit**. All participants are to receive these ahead of the next meeting.
- To allow participants time to digest these documents, and due to Christmas approaching, it is anticipated that the next meeting will be adjourned to January.
- It was felt that the currently proposed number of meetings might be insufficient and there was acknowledgement on this point with a view to holding more to allow thorough discussion and to ensure a well considered and appropriate outcome.
- The surface material is yet to be subject to detailed discussion. Parks project officers said that hoggin (which is part of the current surface material) would be ruled out because it was in short supply. FPW challenged this assertion having found dozens of suppliers online.
- There was a request for the project team to get information from other nature reserves about materials used and what their views were about those materials.
- The project leader from Sustrans informed us that an ecologist (not present) was part of their team.
- Haringey’s own Nature Conservation Officer was not present.
*The Parkland Walk Local Nature Reserve is a designated Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). As such it is subject to checks and the report contains some recommendations that are relevant to decisions being made about paths. It makes particular note of extensive damage to ground flora caused by trampling and recommends the path is brought back to pre Covid widths.
**The Accessibility Audit, also independently authored, makes many recommendations to improve accessibility beyond the issue of the path surface. Its own recommendation is for repairs to the path where it has failed or where there are trip hazards and steep approaches to bridges. It did not recommended a wholesale resurfacing.
End of report
Haringey Council Access and Path Proposals
Haringey Council has completed an online consultation process on works to resurface the path and improve accessibility of the Parkland Walk Local Nature Reserve.
Involvement of Sustrans
We recently discovered that Haringey has chosen Sustrans to design the accessibility works programme. Sustrans is an organisation that specialises in creating cycle networks. This would imply a strong leaning towards a solution that will facilitate more cycling. Even Haringey Cycle Campaign, who were involved in helping to choose the current surface, do not support such a development. Also of note is that very few of the recommendations made in an independent Accessibility Audit have been given much priority or even a mention in communications we have seen from the council and in the consultation process.
An independent Accessibility Audit
In November 2021, Haringey commissioned an Independent Accessibility Audit carried out by Access For All UK. Interestingly that audit recommends repairs to the path only where needed, and improvements to the sloped access points that already exist with the addition of one more at Stapleton Hall Road. The report notes that the council’s understanding of accessibility is focussed on wheelchair and child buggy users. The Audit highlights the needs to improve on facilities and services for 4 other groups: Deaf/hearing loss, Blind/sight loss, those living with Autism and those with Dementia. They also recommend improved signage to help people locate where they are with respect to local services and also to help people navigate between the two sections of Parkland Walk. They advocate much improved information on nature and wildlife to promote the space as a nature reserve. To summarise, Haringey’s current approach would appear not to be following the broader direction recommended in the audit.
The Accessibility Audit comes as five documents. We are currently having difficulty uploading all the sections.
- Report Introduction and Executive Summary
- Access Tracker Intro and website
- Parkland Walk North… Getting Between The Two Sections
- Parkland Walk South part 1
- Parkland Walk South part 2 & Conclusion
It’s our view that Parkland Walk is first and foremost a designated Local Nature Reserve. It is also an open space for the public. Balancing these sometimes conflicting priorities is not easy. It’s worth noting that the council recently widened the path to 5 metres by controversially removing a lot of vegetation. That has already significantly changed the sense of being in the countryside that existed before and has reduced the amount of ground available for nature. This path widening could well be in preparation for installing a cycle path way – something the Friends believe would be bad for nature and the large numbers of pedestrians that enjoy a peaceful stroll through the nature reserve.
Whilst improving access, the final implementation must minimise the effect on the vegetation and wildlife of the Walk and protect the sense of a rural space. Construction methods and the materials used must not contaminate the soil, cause any unnecessary damage, or have any negative implications for the ecology of the reserve, which has been in decline for some time. Most importantly, and this is born out in the recent State of Nature Report, it is essential that investment is made to actively reverse ecological and species decline creating a Biodiversity Net Gain.
Implications for users
The council is rightly concerned to make access to our green spaces available to as many as reasonably practicable. The consultation acknowledges that this can raise serious conflicts between different user groups. In 2007, when much of the current path surface was installed, the choice was based on similar considerations and hoggin was selected as the preferred option. A smooth path will facilitate high-speed cycling, which already impacts on pedestrians and vulnerable groups, and could become considerably worse as eBikes become more common. The design should not create a situation where some users, and especially those vulnerable groups who are supposed to benefit from the improvements, will feel endangered by others.
Impact on the nature reserve
The installation of large ramps will require significant areas of the nature reserve to be built over.In our view the council has already made an extremely poor decision in going ahead with a substantial and costly ramp at Stanhope Road. Stanhope Road is one of the least used access points on the whole of Parkland Walk and has extremely poor links to public transport and local services. The potential benefit and need of provision of ramps should be carefully balanced with the sensitive nature of the site and the degree of service it can provide. The choice of any access points for expanded accessible entrances should favour locations that will have minimal impact. Materials used and the aesthetics of structures should be in keeping with a nature reserve. The council has allocated a very significant budget for this infrastructure project but there areas yet no signs of any intention to address biodiversity decline across the nature reserve.
The next stage
With the public consultation process complete, the next stage is to hold a series of five workshops with key stakeholder groups such as ourselves to shape the approach. The first of these meetings is scheduled for 1st November. The meetings are not open to the public so if you want to express any views it may be best to express them to us and we will do our best to represent you assuming your views are in line with our own!
At the end of each of the 5 stages we will update you on progress via this website and our newsletter.
An account of the November 1st meeting will be posted shortly.