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  • CarolineShah

Richmond Park: SOLD

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

The government and the Mayor of London's office have confirmed, in announcements made this week about the new London Plan, my findings from previous research that interest in preserving Richmond Park as a Special Area of Conservation has been effectively sold to accommodate development plans

The Royal Parks, Natural England and the CPRE have - through their institutional silence - decided not to fight the inevitable destruction of the ecosystem that makes Richmond Park the most special place for nature in London's National Park City, ironically a self-declared movement " make cities greener, healthier and wilder"

Almost daily I see more damage to Richmond Park's ancient trees

Richmond Park is the only natural green space of any real value and of any size for people across vast areas of West London. It is the biggest natural green space in London and already attracts people from across the capital city and beyond. Its ancient trees and the ecosystem needed to support those trees simply cannot cope with any increase in visitors that planned development will bring

Announcing final changes to the new London Plan which is due to be published on 21 December 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government confirmed that housing targets across London, including in Kingston, Merton, Wandsworth, Hounslow and Ealing - boroughs that surround Richmond Pak and that are all areas to be designated as so-called "opportunity areas" for large-scale high-rise residential and office growth - will be the minimum amount of housing that has to be built and that boundaries for "opportunity areas" - which are already established at the whim of a council - can be extended by councils at any time at the same whim. The planned boundary for Kingston's so-called "opportunity area" has already been shown by the council to extend almost right up to Richmond Park

The Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames alone already had insufficient publicly accessible green space for its 2001 population. Even in 2001, Kingston's residents already relied entirely on regional parks such as Richmond Park SAC and Wimbledon Common SAC for access to decent-sized outdoor space, despite a population that was 18% lower even than Kingston's 2018 population

The development planned in Kingston in the new London Plan now means that the population in Kingston alone could double from its 2020 level in just 22 years.

180,000 new Kingston residents making a trip to Richmond Park just once a month would mean 2.2 million extra annual visits to Richmond Park from Kingston alone - a doubling of the most recently reported total visitor figures

I hope to work with Marc Willers QC to challenge the new London Plan, including on its open spaces policies and lack of expert and scientific evidence that the plan's policies will not harm the ancient woodland habitats of Richmond Park SAC

Please click here to contribute to my fundraiser to take the London Plan to judicial review

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