In the early 1970s the shops on the south side of Coldharbour lane were demolished, along with the side streets (Sussex Road, Geneva Road). The Moorlands Estate was built along with Southwyck House – meanwhile Lambeth Council leased out the land currently occupied by the car wash to be used as a petrol station. The land on either side of the petrol station (between Somerleyton Road and Moorland Road) was laid out as a small local park. When it was proposed in 1998 to build on this, David Warner, then on Environmental Services committee objected, in particular noting that there were 50 trees altogether on the site. Michael English, a Labour councillor supported this objection and proposed that the site should be designated at Public Open Space by the Housing Committee, which it was. After the cessation of the garage use the site was cleared by the council (see right).
The next phase came as a shock. In 2011 a metal stockade was set up around the site and massive advertising hoardings were erected (without planning permission). It took 2 years for the advertising to be removed, although the car wash remains.
We want Lambeth to complete the job of making a proper park in front of Southwyck House. The immediate area is becoming more densely populated – since Barratts built and opened Milles Square/Carney Place and now Lambeth are expecting to build a residential complex in Somerleyton Road.
A Moorlands Estate resident suggested an Open Air gym would be a useful addition to the park to provide free exercise facilities to those unable for financial or other reasons to use the paid-for gyms. Making an integrated park between Southwyck House and Coldharbour Lane would be a lasting ecological benefit for the area. Adding an outside gym need not detract from the green ambience of the park zone. Look at these two photos – bottom is the Coldharbour car wash a couple of years ago (before the council made the owners remove the advertsing billboards), and immediately below is a photo of the gym in Albany Road opposite the Aylesbury Estate – a situation similar to our own.