The Independent London Newspaper

 

Another summer without a walk in park by the canal

Published: 28 June, 2013

ANOTHER year is slipping away with residents once again being denied our linear park along the City Road canal basin, Islington’s lake.

The summer solstice was on Friday and sunset will become earlier and the days shorter as we go into autumn and winter. The solstice is the longest day of the year. After that it’s all downhill.

Once again, Islington Council has so far failed to implement the 2004 masterplan providing the linear park for the canal basin.

The park’s walkway is blocked by four gates. Two are council-owned. A third belongs to the National Grid, which is happy to open it. The fourth gate has no planning permission but is jealously guarded by property developer Groveworld. It has its offices a few yards away under the Angel Waterside 84-flat block overlooking the basin. It does open the gate at set times daily.

It seems that Groveworld is the dog in the manger where a gate-free linear park is concerned. Councillors and officials seem to be taking an inordinate amount of notice of this company and not a lot about implementing the long-delayed pleasant summer walk for voters.

I asked that the four gates be opened 24/7 at least for a trial period before yet another summer slipped by, when I wrote to the council executive member for planning, Councillor James Murray, the sustainability member, Councillor Rakhia Ismail and the three St Peter’s ward councillors, Gary Doolan, Martin Klute and Alice Perry, on May 16. That would allow actual experience to be gauged compared with unsupported opinions that there might be anti-social behaviour. It would also avoid paying for gates opening and closing over the years, if successful.

Cllr Ismail replied that it was more Cllr Murray’s pigeon as it was a planning matter and “in such a densely populated borough with not much open space, it’s very important that local people get to enjoy it”.

Cllr Klute replied: “My point is that council officers are already doing a good job of engaging the relevant landowners to achieve a strategy of getting the park opened during defined hours, and that I do not want to cut across this work by campaigning for a different strategy, as this would undermine work already going on.”

No replies from Cllrs Murray, Doolan and Perry have crossed my threshold.

It looks like that the to-ing-and-fro-ing paperwork, possibly about who’s going to pay for daily opening and closing, is landing in office trays marked “Too hard”. That’s the council talking to itself (two gates), National Grid (happy to open) and Groveworld. Without the gate Groveworld guards, the other three gates could be opened today.

LEO CHAPMAN
Dufferin Street, EC1

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