Open Door Policy For Gunnersbury Park

Regeneration Board takes decision to hold all their meetings in public

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After leaked minutes of committee meetings raised concerns over the future of Gunnersbury Park, the Gunnersbury Park Regeneration Board has taken the decision to hold all their meetings in public.

Plans to build a private housing estate and to sell historic buildings to create an independent school were amongst those mooted in previous privately held meetings that were held behind closed doors. Members of the board denied any such proposals were being seriously considered. A spokesperson said, “Alternative sources of public and private funding and sustainable uses for the Park must be found, but there is no plan existing to sell off any of the park."

The park is now on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk register, with nine of its 21 listed buildings in danger of crumbling down. Reducing budgets and limited capital investment had contributed to the steady decline in both the physical structure of its landscape and buildings, demanding a new approach to safeguard its future.

In March last year, a new board to manage Gunnersbury Park was formed ending an historic joint-committee arrangement between the two councils. The board, which is made up of representatives from both councils, is developing an action plan for the park, including identifying new investment opportunities however, their decision to meet in private angered local residents, Lib Dems and Ann Keen MP.

Brentford Cllr Matt Harmer said, "The decision to hold meetings behind closed doors was taken by the Conservative leaders of Hounslow and Ealing and I'm pleased that this decision has been reversed. As councillors we shouldn't be ashamed of holding our meetings in the open and I hope we can work closely with residents of the two boroughs to provide a long term future for the Park.

A spokesman for London Borough of Hounslow said, ""Hounslow and Ealing councils have asked expert consultants to look at options for Gunnersbury Park, and these will be assessed against the councils' conservation management plan. Once the consultants' report is received, the board will be inviting the community and all stakeholders to have their say on the possible options.

"The report is a considerable piece of work and will not be received in time for the meeting on 25 October, but a draft of the report should be available for a stakeholders and community meeting on 24 January 2009."

Head of Gunnersbury Park's Regeneration Board Richard Gill, is urging people to get involved in the stakeholder group. He said, "These are exciting times for Gunnersbury Park. There is a real desire to find new investment and transform this much-loved park for present and future generations to enjoy. While the board will be the main decision-maker, we are determined that people who have a genuine interest in improving the park should have an opportunity to influence that decision-making, and I hope people come forward to register their interest."

Possible stakeholders include anyone with a professional or voluntary background in parks, wildlife, leisure and heritage. But equally local people who regularly use the park, or are concerned about other issues, are welcome to register their interest by calling 020 8992 1612.

October 2, 2008