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Horniman Gardens works
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Posts: 1,796
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #1
08-04-2011 09:38 PM

Above is a link to the Horniman page on the works which have just started.

I find it hard to believe that these works were programmed to take place all throughout the summer rendering much of the gardens out of bounds for that time until September. It seems it will be difficult to use many of the spaces this summer. For the next few weeks the lower areas near to London Road will be out of bounds however the garden staff themselves say it will probably be for longer than the officially stated position.

As far as consideration of the local population goes, its a big thumbs down from me, as I think the work could have been scheduled to take place over the winter months and/or phased so as not to put huge chunks of the gardens out of action for such a long time in the summer months.

With Michael Daveys sad passing , Forest Hill Day seemed a bit uncertain this year but it won't be possible this year in any case.

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Posts: 1,538
Joined: Apr 2006
Post: #2
09-04-2011 02:14 PM

A lot of larger ground work like this is just not a good idea in winter. Trust me, been there done that and got the t-shirt.

Sure it will be a slight pain but give the plant and groundwork time to bed in over next winter and spring will be superb.

Rome was not built in a day.

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Posts: 1,796
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #3
09-04-2011 05:46 PM

Indeed but the extent to which the garden has been deemed out of bounds is quite large and probably more than people imagined? The top part has been fenced off due to construction traffic even though there is no work going on there. I still think that the animal enclosure work and the bandstand could have been done in the winter.

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Posts: 7
Joined: Oct 2010
Post: #4
14-04-2011 02:29 PM

The doggie walking fraternity is awash with rumours that the gardens are closing to the public this summer due to the renovation works.

From what has been picked up from the gardens staff the top half of the gardens will be imminently closing and a complete closure will happen before August!!

For those local residents that remember attending meetings where we were promised that the gardens would remain open this has come as a big shock.

I shall be writing in a letter of complaint to the museum.

Not good.

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Posts: 283
Joined: Feb 2006
Post: #5
14-04-2011 09:56 PM

It might be worth asking the museum for a timetable of changes just in case the information is wrong and it's not all closed. You wouldn't want to complain bitterly only for them to come back and say you're mistaken?

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Posts: 1,796
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #6
14-04-2011 11:25 PM

It doesn't seem to be a rumour; much of the gardens are closed now. The staff said the same thing to me in that most of it would be out of action until the autumn. What appears not to have been factored in is the closing off of the top areas due to health and safety in relation to construction traffic. These areas are not within the work area. People entering through the Horniman Drive area will have to compete with that construction traffic.

I agree that the information that most of us were given is that the gardens will be operational throughout however the only area that will be open will be the lower grounds leading off the Horniman Drive entrance and the grassed area immediatly around the museum.

I am not one of those people who welcomed these works in the first place as I felt it was all about the short term building careers for staff rather than really adding to the long term betterment of the gardens and adding value to the overall educational value of the museum.
After the jerk cookout fiasco I remain of the opinion that the Horniman cannot really care less about its local community. They must know by now that what they have been telling that community has been misleading but seem to be making no effort to discuss it.
Complain away, some of us might join you.

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Joined: Jan 2004
Post: #7
15-04-2011 02:10 PM

I think the redevelopment project is fantastic for the Horniman and the local community, which stands to massively benefit from it - for free. I don't have too many complaints about a bit of disruption: it's clearly sensible and normal for the work to be done over summer to prevent creating an unworkable mudbath.

Roz - the info on the Horniman website is:

Areas of the Garden which will be closed
•The Bandstand Terrace and Sunken Garden will be closed until September 2011.
•The Animal Enclosure is closed until Spring 2012.
•The footpath from the Avenue to the Wildlife Garden which runs parallel to London Road will be closed until Monday 18 April.
•The path at top of Avenue running towards Meadow Field will be closed from mid-April until mid-June.
•Outside toilets will not be available from 3rd May until mid-June.
•The north side of Meadow Field will be closed for the first two weeks of May.
•The Horniman Drive entrance which leads to the Avenue will be closed from mid-May until mid-June.

Are we saying anything here is untrue?

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Posts: 148
Joined: Jul 2010
Post: #8
15-04-2011 02:26 PM

I will not be writing a letter of complaint to anybody. I think the Horniman Museum and Gardens are wonderful, and they don't cost us a penny. They're probably the best thing about living in Forest Hill.

I think the work they did on the museum a few years ago was really well done, and I look forward to seeing the improvements to the gardens. These things are bound to cause disruption and I have no problem with having only limited use of the gardens until it's all finished.

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Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #9
15-04-2011 03:06 PM

I'm happy to give up my summer in the park for many more good years to come. I can't wait for the new animal enclosure, an education centre that allows a bit of mess, and a buggy-accessible sunken garden.

Given the amount of good Horniman Museum and Gardens contributes to the local area and the dedication of the staff, comments like 'it was all about the short term building careers for staff' actually make me angry. These are some of the best public sector employees working in Forest Hill and deserve our praise for running a world class museum.

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Posts: 296
Joined: May 2006
Post: #10
15-04-2011 11:00 PM

Horniman Staff have provided this programme of closures:

Area of the gardens to be closed
Closed from
For how long

Lower path which runs from Avenue towards wildlife garden
31st March to 16th April
2 weeks
Pedestrian entrance closed

Path at top of Avenue running towards Meadow Field
18th April to mid June
8 weeks
Only path linking the Museum area to west side of Gardens will be the one running parallel to the London Rd near the Avenue entrance

Outside Toilets
3rd May to mid June
6 weeks
Only toilets on site will be those in the Museum accessible from 9.30 to 17.30

North side of Meadow Field (at least half of the field). Ground source heat pump being installed
3rd May to 17th May
2 weeks
No access to pedestrian path which runs from Nods Way entrance towards sunken garden underneath the bandstand

Horniman Drive entrance down to the Avenue
Mid May to mid June
4 weeks
No access (vehicle and pedestrian) from Horniman Drive. Any vehicles accessing site will have to use London Rd entrance. Pedestrians will have to use Nods Way. Michael Horniman Building will not be accessible to vehicles.

What this says is that the Horniman Drive Gate will be closed to ALL vehicles and pedestrians (ie including Contractors) but this needs clarification.

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Posts: 269
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #11
15-04-2011 11:19 PM

The issue for me isn't that the gardens will be closed, but that I have mixed feelings about some of the proposals. I'd need to know more about this education centre but I hope it doesn't encroach too much on the green space. Is one really needed? Do the majority of people visit the Horniman to be educated in some way, or to enjoy a beautiful and tranquil green area? How can the natural attractions of the place be improved on by another building? There is already a library and areas devoted to educational courses. I know because I attended an excellent creative writing class there a few years ago.
Do the gardens really need to be landscaped and changed yet again?

For instance the African Garden has barely had a chance to bed in and it's being replaced by something else already.

I don't know...I love the gardens and appreciate the place it occupies in the community but that doesn't mean I have to agree with any future proposals or the overall strategic vision. Some of it looks a little misguided. I'd rather have trees and greenery than another building.

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Posts: 1,796
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #12
16-04-2011 12:17 AM

Good points well made, seeformiles.

My point about making a large part of the gardens redundant is that you can usually phase works like this so as not to disrupt its daily use, but seemingly this hasn't been given its due consideration. I doubt if this was ever made clear to anyone during the main consultation process. A year can be a long time especially in the life of a child so I remain disappointed that my children won't be able to use the gardens this summer in the way they have done in the past.

I share the view that 'development' isnt' always necessary to enhance premises and gardens like these. Sometimes less is more.
I didn't really get the point of the wholesale redevelopment proposals when I attended some of the presentations made a few years ago and I do mean it when I say that individual career building comes into this. Sometimes people like to put their stamp on something and that generally isnt achieved by leaving something as it is. I will wait to be convinced when these works are complete but I do hope that this doesn't transpire to be another white elephant. There are definitely two trains of thought in all of this; those who equate development with progress and progress with development and those who don't always see development as a necessary prerequisite to progress. Change can be achieved without major building construction. Its still my view that what is happening is overdevelopment of that site but I do genuinely hope that I am wrong but I feel I am not.

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Posts: 7
Joined: Oct 2010
Post: #13
17-04-2011 07:40 PM

I would agree that the gardens have been changed alot in recent years but I'm not convinced they have always been improved.

Certainly the animal pen and the bandstand needed work but some of the plans appear to be change for changes sake. Is a large fountain in the sunken garden really necessary?

I also question the logic behind building an 'education centre'.Where does this fit in to a young persons education? In between school and college perhaps or maybe just at weekends.

The phased development has been mentioned and I think that was how this work was originally explained to local residents.

The gardens definately need some work. The removal of most the shrubs from the beds earlier this year was reported to be part of the development plans but again this is an area not covered by the re-development so the thinking behind that seems odd.[/i]

Kids in urban areas need good green spaces not ever decreasing ones, the direction of the horniman gardens is a concern to those of us locals with youngsters.

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Posts: 269
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #14
17-04-2011 10:27 PM

It's a concern to everyone who enjoys the gardens, regardless of whether you have children or not. It's especially important for those (including me) who don't have a garden of their own.

I'll also be very sorry if those lovely flower beds are going to be replaced by a water feature.

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Post: #15
17-04-2011 10:55 PM

This is the text from the planning application regarding the sunken garden:

The main area of the sunken garden will continue to be covered in flowers but the very centre will have a water feature, which I think will only improve the area.

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Post: #16
18-04-2011 03:19 PM

I disagree Michael,

When it was in full bloom, I cant believe anyone would have looked upon that garden and wished for a large 8mx2m concrete "water feature" to be placed in it's centre.

The Diana memorial fountain anyone?.....

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Joined: Feb 2006
Post: #17
18-04-2011 06:54 PM

Actually, I'll put my hand up and say that I found the sunken garden to be a little underwhelming. The flowers were very pretty but since you weren't allowed to wander into the sunken part very often (ever?) you weren't always able to get the full effect.

On sunny days, having a water feature there will be a lovely addition to the flowers - I love hearing the sound of water when reading or relaxing so I'm quite happy with it. It's not as if they're taking the flowers out altogether.

I use the Horniman Gardens a lot since I don't have my own and overall they are beautiful and so long as there's still some spots for us to sit in over the summer period, it's short pain for loveliness going forward. Some of the new features are for those with kids - and to be honest, with the improvements in the Triangle, I think kids are better catered for now than they've been for years. If the Triangle work hadn't been done, then I'd be agreeing that the summer works were more disruptive to families.

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Post: #18
19-04-2011 11:34 AM

I love the Hornimans Gardens and appreciate it for exacly what it is - a large and very beautiful garden dontated to the local community by the Horniman family. It should remain a place of calm, tranquility and horticultral learning. In terms of the disruption, I can understand that renovation from time to time is required. But what is this 'Education Centre all about? There are no designs up on the fences of what it will look like and I fear it will be a nasty modern building, blocking out the views of the bandstand and destroying the historic scenery. Why does it need to be at the top of the gardens? Can't an area in the Museum be found for education purposes? Why build on our garden, isnt there enough concrete in London Cursing

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Post: #19
19-04-2011 11:46 AM

I agree. If it was a larger area then maybe another building wouldn't intrude too much. But the gardens aren't *that* big and any bit of green space is precious. And personally yes, I'd rather see flowers in a garden than a water feature that replaces many of them. Perhaps I'm old fashioned but a garden for me represents a harmonious combination of nature and horticulture. I liked the sunken garden and thought the borders were stunning as well as the central beds. It was a beautiful, colourful place to read a book or just sit and think.

As mentioned earlier there already seemed to be adequate space in the main building for evening and weekend courses and plenty of thought put into family activities in the galleries downstairs, so I don't think another building is justified in gardens of this size.

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Post: #20
29-04-2011 10:46 AM

On my walk around this morning I was told that the triangle is to be given over to long grass.

I do hope the museum will re-think this idea. The inevitable dog mess that will accumulate in the long grass will make it out of bounds for children! Local kids need space to play.

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