Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Sue Godfrey Nature Park
If you happen across this little pocket-handkerchief-sized square of land while walking to the Laban Centre, or cutting through towards the river, you would be forgiven for thinking it looked like a spot that was ripe for redevelopment.
It doesn't exactly have the old sofas and other fly-tipped debris (perhaps it's under the gaze of CCTV cameras?) but nevertheless it does look as if it's just waiting to be sold off for luxury flats or something.
In fact this is the Sue Godfrey Nature Park, which according to Lewisham Council is now recognised for its wildlife value in the council's unitary development plan in 1996.
Apparently it was originally the site of the Gibbs & Canning pottery works from 1682 until 1967, after which it spent some time as a fly-tipper's mecca before being saved by local campaigners, one of whom was Sue Godfrey.
According to the blurb, some 200 different types of flora have been recorded here over the years - it's hard to believe when you stroll across the gravel path that cuts through it, it just looks like a lot of long grass and some bushes. There doesn't even seem to be much variety in habitat, although I've never stopped to study it closely. The council did some work on it about three years ago, at about the same time that I was looking at flats in the neighbouring Crossfields estate, and from what I saw of the before and after, I don't believe there was any improvement. Possibly quite the opposite.
I hope I'm wrong, and that it still is a valuable wildlife site. Even without its wildlife value, however, it is great to see little slips of land like this being retained for public access. There is precious little real green space in Deptford (I'm not talking about the strips of grass between the council estate blocks either) and it is very important that these sort of resources are safeguarded for the sanity of present and future residents.