Reflections on the value of a park




These images are from a walk over the housing developer created park next to the new estate they built on the edge of our town. A park they were obliged to create as part of the conditions for being granted planning permission. A park created from a redundant section of a golf course and on the fringes, the long overgrown edge to long abandoned and equally overgrown gravel workings.

A park that since the COVID-19 induced lockdown has been discovered and appreciated by a growing number of locals. A park that with the right inputs, could not only be a valuable recreational asset for the residents of Stanford-le-Hope but towards its more remote fringes, a valuable wildlife habitat as well. A park that initially we were probably a bit dismissive of but now we’ve started to properly explore it, one that we’re starting to cherish.

A park that still hasn’t got a name. We’d like to suggest ‘St. Clere’s Common’ and get it actually declared as a common so we, the residents of Stanford-le-Hope, can enjoy its benefits in perpetuity. The formal naming and declaration of commoners rights to be marked with a community celebration to cement the bonds that have been formed during lockdown.

During the lengthy period of lockdown, it’s been a place we’ve been able to get away to for our statutory once a day ‘exercise’ period. In a situation where we’ve learned to not take anything for granted ever again, an hour (and a cheeky bit more) over this park has probably helped to stop us sliding into semi-depression.

There’s a downside… The land immediately adjacent to this park is the subject of a planning application to turn it into a massive sand and gravel quarry. The excavation and the projected number of lorry movements would wreck enjoyment of the park for the locals who use it. What the applicant didn’t bargain for was the lockdown leading to more people discovering and appreciating the park. People who are already vocal in their objection to the proposed desecration that the quarry would create: More than 1,000 people sign up to protest about huge quarry plan in East Thurrock.

The bastards behind this application have got a real fight on their hands…

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