By News Reporters
Camden Council are seeking the views of local people before improvements are made to The Warren playground and open space at Whitfield Place. Camden have commissioned landscape architects Land Use Consultants Limited to draw up plans. The Warren is one of three public open spaces in Fitzrovia.
There will be a public meeting this Thursday 18 April to help shape the plans for the improvements to the open space. This will be a follow up to a meeting held in March where residents, young people, community groups and business representatives held initial talks with Camden Parks and the landscape architects.
At the initial meeting a number of views and concerns about the future of the open space were voiced. There were concerns to “design-out” anti-social behaviour and make the area more welcoming for families with young children. There were also questions asked about how competing activities can be accommodated in the multi-use games area. How could use of the basket ball hoops be used at the same time as the 5-aside football pitch?
To the south of the site at Suffolk House new affordable housing is to be built to replace the current workshops. Some residents were concerned that the multi-use games area so close to the new housing may be a cause of conflict and last year’s Open Space and Public Realm Study identified that “increased residential frontage may put pressure on the removal of the ball court”.
Planning permission for the housing was given several years ago despite concerns raised at the time by community groups that it was not a suitable place for the housing.
Alternative sites for the multi-use games area were investigated in the Open Space and Public Realm Study as part the Fitzrovia Area Action Plan, however, no suitable location was identified. The Study reported that improvements to The Warren “Should be pursued as a high priority”.
At 1600m2 (building line to building line) this is a significant local open space which comprises a ball court, a children’s play area, a hard paved piazza and mature trees which is in need of redesign / refurbishment as it currently has a limited offer with little valuable habitat. (Fitzrovia Open Space and Public Realm Study, p27)
A spokesperson for Camden Council told Fitzrovia News: “The budget available for the refurbishment works is £70k for both the works and design fees. £70k is made up of £40k from Parks and Open Spaces capital budget and £30k from S106 contributions from the development at Asta House, 53-65 Whitfield Street.
“Land Use Consultants were awarded the tender to put together a master plan for The Warren in order to allow phased improvements to the site as funds become available. The project budget allows for the design costs and the first phase of improvements to the site,” said the spokesperson.
The Warren was created in the mid-1970s when local people rescued the land which was being used as a car park. A grant was secured and the playground and public area was created. It was officially opened as a public park by Frank Dobson when he was leader of Camden Council. The site had previously been a public bathhouse and before that a street market. The ground is owned by Camden Council with the Fitzrovia Play Association paying the electricity to floodlight the football pitch and contributing to maintenance costs.
The Warren is one of “only three genuinely public open spaces” in Fitzrovia. The 2012 Open Space Study noted: “The pressure on these spaces is huge due to the demand generated by office workers, shoppers, students and tourists as well as the residents. There is, therefore, a genuine need for more public space in Fitzrovia.”
Public meeting at 7.00pm to 8.30pm on Thursday 18 April in the Conference Room at the Indian YMCA, 41 Fitzroy Square, London, W1T 6AQ. If you have any questions about the project, please call the parks and open spaces team on: 020 7974 1693