#69: Orchard Swept Away

“In 21 years of environmental campaigning in Southwark, I’ve never heard so many lies told about one small project.”
– Donnachadh McCarthy (Save Camberwell Green Community Orchard Campaign).

Camberwell Green Orchard

The Orchard is a small plot of land surrounded by railings which sits beside Camberwell Green, SE5.

The site was an open piece of grass until the mid-1990s. Then, the Green Ventures charity worked with children from the adjacent estate to turn it into a community orchard. The children held jumble sales to pay for the trees. The Peabody Trust paid for signs and Southwark set the site apart by surrounding it with railings. Last year around a thousand plums and pears were collected from trees. The ground flora contains wild garlic and bluebells.

The Orchard may be small, but it provides a vital wildlife habitat as
a counterpart to the space for people on Camberwell Green.

During the last 18 months or so, Southwark has pushed for a library project on the site, despite the insistence of many local people that the Council should investigate alternative sites close by.

A majority of respondents to a consultation did not want the community orchard to be destroyed. Southwark went ahead and obtained planning permission.

Re-writing history: Southwark stopped regular work to manage the site, then
complained about it being messy. The site was said to have been self-seeded.
Martin Heath, Chair, Friends of Belair Park:

“What a disappointment! Southwark’s June 29 conference for friends of parks was a very friendly and positive occasion, but a cloud appeared on the horizon when Jim and Steph Lodge of Southwark Friends of the Earth raised questions about The Orchard, which we then heard dismissed as a ‘few fruit trees,’ whose loss would supposedly be compensated by beefing up other sites elsewhere.

I decided to visit The Orchard and check out the situation for myself. Insect life abounded. It is quite simply bad planning to create a clash between a library and biodiversity. Southwark has shot itself in the foot, and our newsletter shall follow this episode to its bitter end.”

friendsofbelairpark@hotmail.co.uk Tel. 020 8670 8924


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