Burgess Park has beautiful woodlands which are vital for local wildlife. They are a precious resource in an urban area. We fear that plans for tall buildings on the edge of the woodlands will reduce the sunlight and change the habitat.
We need to fully understand what impact tall buildings would have.
Help us raise funds for an independent wildlife report that we can present to Southwark’s Planning Committee. We want to raise £1500 by the end of May 2021.
Woodland is far more than just trees, of course they are important and beautiful, but a woodland also includes the woodland floor, deadwood, shrubs, fungi, birds, bats and insects. All of this is continuously changing and maturing throughout the cycle of the seasons, with the changes in warmth and light.
Decisions will be made in the next few weeks and months on five developments beside the park. Four separate developments along Parkhouse Street back onto Burgess Park and 10 and 11 storey blocks are planned to tower over the park and its woodland. Plus plans have been submitted for a tall development on Southampton Way, next to the park, on land allocated for the park. Although we know some of the decisions will be soon, we don't have any confirmed dates for the planning committee yet.
Southampton Way Woodlands (Burgess Park West between Wells Way and Southampton Way) is under threat.
As it stands, the planning committee decisions will be based on the developers' ecology survey reports which are dismissive of the value of the woodlands and the impact these new buildings will have. They also dismiss the reduction in sunlight, the quality of the current woodland and fail to scope out the impact on foraging and commuting birds and bats.
London Wildlife Trust have objected because: (summary)
- Burgess Park is a Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation in Southwark, it is of authority-wide value.
- The woodlands have ecological value to the broader parkland, reflecting the recognition of Burgess Park’s potential biodiversity value for local people.
- The significance of the local bat population, the role the park plays in supporting bats foraging and the impact of building lighting.
- The building shading on the ecological area immediately to the north of the proposed development may have considerable long-term effects on woodlands, woodland species and pollinators.
- The cumulative effects from proposed developments along Parkhouse Street.
- Negative long-term habitat and species impacts on protected and/or priority species.
The proposed buildings will cast deep shadows on the woodland, making them dark and unappealing for both people and wildlife. Loss of light at key times in the year, e.g. midwinter also impacts on early soil warming, needed for woodland floor species to develop and flourish, providing essential early forage for pollinators.
The graphic below demonstrates the long shadows that these buildings would cast over the woodland and the park between 10am/2pm during equinox.
The image below demonstrates the long shadows that these buildings would cast over the woodland and the park between at 10am during winter solstice.
(Full day shadow studies during equinox & solstice can be found in our video at the top of the page)
We must act now by commissioning an up-to-date independent ecology report from the London Wildlife Trust (LWT) to review the current evidence and reflect on the value of the woodlands as an important local and London habitat. Our main focus will initially be on the main mass of Southampton Way Woodlands shown on the map below. This area is of direct risk by the current planning applications.
The report will become a key tool, both with informing planning of surrounding developments, and with helping us understand the woodlands potential and other actions we can put in place to ensure that the area/our local ecology thrives.
Why London Wildlife Trust?
LWT surveyed this area of Burgess Park (in 2013) as well as other areas of the park, and have previously advised on management of this area, so they already hold knowledge and data that they can use to inform this report and assess the woodland's progress and potential.
If we manage to surpass our funding goal, additional funds will allow us to expand the survey to the St George’s Way woodlands which are also under threat of development with tall towers proposed on the Wickway Centre site.
We are a group of woodland loving local residents and park users from a collection of different local community groups, centring around the Friends of Burgess Park. We welcome you to this group, joining this part of our woodlands story.
We have created this welcoming Burgess Park Woodland logo as our little flag to wave in future communications relating to our woodlands. We see this as a long term ongoing project and hope to develop some community engagement activities and workshops in the future, helping local people connect with their woodland.
(The logo features the uncommon White-letter Hairstreak butterfly which is known to breed in Burgess Park's elm trees.)
(All photos are taken within the Southampton Way Woodland in Burgess Park)
Burgess Park is the largest green space in the centre of Southwark used by thousands of people. The informal wildness of the woodlands is a unique place for people to come into contact with nature. It is a rich habitat for birds, bats and butterflies, including rare species e.g. the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly.
The space is vital for an inner city area. Already under pressure from increased use, we want to aim for the best conditions, ensuring the best opportunity is maintained for wildlife to thrive.
We thank you for your help in funding this report.