DEVELOPERS have taken over a precious park and turned it into a wasteland that has yet to be returned to the community.
Hatcham Gardens, in Lewisham, South London, closed in 2018 so Peabody Housing could store heavy machinery to build a sprawling complex of 65 apartments.
But years after its completion, “The Berlin Wall”style hoarding and sinister fencing. bar school kids and families are deprived of the only green space in the area, leaving them devastated.
Edward Goodwin, a parent at Kender Elementary School who dismissed the antics, said the story was a mess.
The product designer, who is also the chairman of the board, told The Sun: “Peabody walked in, they said don’t worry, the playing field would be restored, but then it didn’t.
“They say the problem is the cost to clear the park but where is all that money from the development going?
“There’s wasteland on one side of the school and wasteland on the other. Peabody created this little gym, but it’s just a dog toilet.”
Apartments in The Pomeroy development sold for £600,000 and buyers said they bought on the pretext of having immediate access to the park – but this didn’t materialize.
Peabody said the project to clean up the mess they left behind proved too expensive but announced it would be cleaned up in the spring of 2024.
Speaking to The Sun, they added: “We were faced with many issues beyond our control, including a sudden lack of suitable contractors interested in the job.”
But Peabody’s defenses were ignored, with one resident who lived directly across from the park for five years accusing the developer of building a Cold War-style perimeter.
She told The Sun: “They’re crazy. It’s like the Berlin Wall, it’s horrible. I looked out my living room window and couldn’t see anything.”
“Peabody took no responsibility for it and Lewisham Council said it was not their problem.”
Elvana Koraj, originally from Albania, has lived in the area since 2019 and has a son in second grade at Kender.
The mother, a member of the Parents and Teachers Association, told The Sun: “I’m angry at Peabody, it has had a huge impact on my family.
“There’s no park in this area, there’s a park behind the church but it’s small, full of dogs and a place where people drink.”
Meanwhile Mary King, 40, who has two young children at Kender Primary School and works for Trees For Cities, said the situation was “horrific”.
She told The Sun: “Ever since we came to this school, there has been this space that has just been brought up.
“It was horrible, it was hard to communicate with other parents, then we had Covid, didn’t have a nice social atmosphere for several years.”
A “dull” playground located next to the park used to be lush and had swings and other equipment but it wasn’t enough to help a needy community.
Keith Barr, principal at Kender Elementary for 16 years, says his students need outdoor space to play before and after school.
About 35-40 percent of children at school receive free school meals and come from poor families.
Mr. Barr said: ‘Children miss it very much, they live in quite cramped accommodation, 20 minutes from the nearest park.
“The community has been very patient but there should have been a specific schedule. Those are just priorities, more focus needs to be on providing that play space for the kids.”
And one man walking his Staffordshire Bull Terrier added: “This is a park that’s been around since the ’70s – look at it now.
“We used to have grass to play football, now nothing, it’s a danger.”
Carlene Smith moved across from the park five years ago and knows nothing else.
The mother, whose 9-year-old son is studying at the school, said: “I was told he would come back after a year but no.
“You wake up and you see this, it’s not a pretty sight.”
What the developers say
A Peabody spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the new playground has yet to be built and we share the frustration of residents.
“Unfortunately, homes and parks have been delayed by Covid.
“We have worked closely with the Lewisham Council park team to improve the park.
“We were faced with many issues that were beyond our control, including a sudden lack of suitable contractors interested in the job.
“Since then, we have not been able to find a landscaping company willing to provide a fair quote for the job.
“However, we are seeking quotes from other contractors and expect this to take another three months.
“While this unfortunately means further delays, we are committed to improving the park because we know that is what local children and families want.”
A Lewisham Council spokesman said: “We share residents’ frustration with the delay in delivering the agreed improvements to this part of the park.
“We urged Peabody to make sure the improvements were done as quickly as possible.
“In the meantime, we are speaking with Peabody Elementary and Kender Elementary to discuss an interim solution to help this area of the park safely reopen to the public until the complete renovation work can be done.”