By Max Neufeld
The underused Alfred Place and North Crescent have for sometime been seen as a potential open space. The idea has now been enshrined in the Fitzrovia Area Action Plan which identifies it as a potential open space to, in small part meet, the desperate open space deficiency in Fitzrovia.
The average open space per resident in the London Borough of Camden is 20 square metres. The average for Fitzrovia is 0.7 sq m! As the Council owns the land there is no need to wait until the formal process of making the plan statutory.
Work on Alfred Place should start immediately and to achieve this a campaign group has been set up under the umbrella of Friends of Open Spaces of Fitzrovia. Those involved will remember the long campaign led by Charlotte Street Association to get Crabtree Fields, and they know that every gain by the community has to be fought for.
What needs to be done to make our park in Alfred Place a reality? The project is supported by our councillors and they must now ensure that the Council is formally committed to the project and is included in the forward programme with a timetable for implementation.
Consultants need to be appointed – landscape architects with a proven track record for this kind of small urban park to prepare, in consultation with the community, an imaginative and generous scheme with costings.
Secure funding, this will not be easy in the current climate but there are sources including Transport for London who have a budget for this sort of project: S106 money (planning gain), the expenditure of which is not at present prioritised by local councillors let alone the community. Also no doubt the new Fitzrovia Partnership BID will wish to contribute generously in furtherance of their purported aim to improve the area and for the direct benefit of their employees.
It is a rare opportunity to secure a truly imaginative and high quality space that must not be compromised. If, due to funding difficulties, it needs to be implemented in stages, so be it. Better that than settle for an austerity scheme of a bit of fancy paving and a few benches. Don’t settle for second best. Campaign for Green Fitzrovia Open Space, and a splendid park in Alfred Place.