The site is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Foley
Please note that the site has not been updated properly since 2015. I hope to re-engineer the site soon.
This page is about to the Surrey Square Park (Google Map) and how I experience it.
Although the park is small it is much beloved to the area residents because it is the only green space of any size they have between Burgess Park and the Old Kent Road (Bermondsey).
It is a tiny speckle of green in South East London and the area on which it stands is so densely populated that it looks, to us that live around it, like a green oasis.
There are larger parks at some not enormous distance, namely the Burgess Park, but the Surrey Square one is our garden, the place where you stroll down in sleepers and where you know the neighbours and the dangers.
The park, as it appears in the Southwark Unitary Development Plan (July 2007 and now rebranded "Local Development Framework"), shows that the area is legally classified as "Borough Open Space" and one of local importance for nature conservation.
There are also referrals in the 2012 "Southwark Open Space Strategy" and part of Southwark future "Local Development Framework" policies.
To the park users it means that the area cannot be built on (apart by the Council itself and they too would need a lot of legislative fiddling to be able to do this legally) and that within the Park administration the local Ecological Officer has to be consulted when changes are made.
Some images of the place can be seen from the abutting buildings.
In spite of the small size, the park is much needed because it is surrounded by dense conurbations of mostly large Council estates and throughout its history it has been cared and protected by residents in different forms and through various organisations.
This popular interest may accounts for the Surrey Square Park nearly miraculous preservation in spite of many attempts to reduce or even erase it.
The"Friends of Surrey Square Park" (FoSSP) are the latest incarnation of this interest; it is a dedicated group of local residents that volunteer some practical activities for the park maintenance, keep watch over it (and the Council offices that should care for it) and engages in lobbying and fundraising to improve it.
The Friends of Surrey Square Park (FoSSP) are also very much part of a movement about green urban renovation that have seen developing (or some may say re-emerging) in recent years.
An instance of this trend, in this part of London, is the Green Link Initiative (the initiative has not yet a formal web presence but the inception document from the Friends of Nursery Row Park can be seen here) .
This is a confederation of various stakeholders that would like to see the local Southwark smaller parks and green areas connected by pedestrian friendly pathways. A general idea of the "Green link" initiative can be found here (note that the site is run by the charity "Southwark Living Streets" so it reflects their point of view).
There are however many more green initiatives large and small encompassing biodiversity, art, food cultivation, etc. in which the Friends are interested collectively or individually.
We are however experiencing times of deep economic and social decline and the future of these movements is at the very least questionable.
To document some of the happenings in our beloved green oasis I have built a short events, activities and history of the park but the page is still far from being completed, if you have photographs or material related to the subject please send me copies and I will try to include it somewhere.
Indeed the site is at the moment only a "Work in Progress" one but it is hoped that eventually many more pages will be added with more history, introduction to future projects and educational commentaries on the park features and facilities.
A large section will be devoted to the wildlife that can be encountered in the park and environs.
This in fact was the original inspiration for this site. At the moment however only a stub page with a "Species List" is present on the topic in addition to the remains of a previous site that dealt primarily with a specific section of the park.
The Friends of Surrey Square Park also produced a poster highlighting some of the many delights that can be encountered even in such small green oasis:
For more details please write to the site curator here.