Greenwich Council

Agenda item

Motion "The future of Avery Hill Winter Garden and Mansion"

Motion proposed by Councillors Nuala Geary, Matt Clare and Mark Elliott

Decision:

Resolved –

 

Council notes public concern over the future of Avery Hill Winter Garden and Mansion following the decision of the University of Greenwich to vacate the site in 2018. Council believes this unique and listed heritage asset must be protected and restored, with a revival of the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund forming part of any redevelopment, and proper involvement of the local community in the future of the site.

 

Council has long recognised the existence of three education covenants on the site and expects that an education tenant would be part of any redevelopment. Moreover, Council notes that the Leader of the Council is requesting a meeting with the University, the Winter Garden campaign lead, and others, to push the case to relaunch a new Heritage Lottery Fund bid aimed at ensuring that the future of this hidden gem is assured.

 

Minutes:

The Mayor agreed to two members of the public addressing the Council on the motion.

 

The Council was addressed by Terry Powley, the convener of the Save Avery Hill Winter Garden campaign group. He described the context, and related the history of the site. He explained that the campaign group was critical of the implications of the sale on three grounds: the refusal of the University to consider investment in the future of the gardens after it leaves the site; the abandonment of a promising bid to the heritage lottery fund which would have restored the Garden; and, its disregard of the local community by failing to enter into dialogue with it on its future plans. The group was pleased that the Council would try and assert its influence on the University to make them honour their responsibilities; the group noted that the Leader of the Council had responded positively to the suggestion of a task group made up of representatives of the Council, Greenwich Heritage Trust, and the campaign group, should be set up to revive the heritage lottery bid. He commented on the role the Council had to play: it was the custodian of the historical legacy of the Borough's heritage; it was the planning authority for any development on the site; it was a potential acquirer of assets for the cultural good; and, it could have the role of guarantor of the Garden if it remained unsold when the University left the site. He concluded that they, Council and community, should all ensure the maintenance of the Garden for the benefit of a future generation.

 

The Council was addressed by Eileen Glover. She noted the Council had sold the site for £1 on the understanding that the University would maintain it and keep public access. She considered that the Council had the moral high ground and should request the University to sell it back for £1 and that the University also give a cash dowry as compensation for the lack of maintenance. Once back under the Council it could be given to the Greenwich Heritage Trust, who as a charity could revive the heritage lottery bid and could also launch a public appeal for funding.

 

Councillor Nuala Geary moved the motion.  Councillor Geary acknowledged the work of Terry Powley, and the Friends of Avery Hill park group. She commented on the history of the house and site, and of the campaign. Councillor Geary drew Council’s attention to the public support expressed to ensure this Borough gem was protected and restored.

 

The motion was seconded by Councillor Mark Elliott.

 

Councillor Danny Thorpe, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability, proposed the amendment to the motion, as detailed in the published Tabled Items agenda. He thanked all members of the campaign and the petitioners. He clarified the reason for the proposed amendment to the motion, detailing the covenants affecting the site and said that the University as the legal owner of the site must respect them and uphold them in any future plans. Councillor Thorpe stressed that it was essential for the University to come to the table to work with the community and the Council to safeguard the Garden and he publicly called on them to do so.

 

Councillor Denise Hyland, Leader of the Council seconded the amendment. The Leader thanked the campaign group for their efforts.

 

Councillor Nuala Geary indicated she would accept the amendment. She emphasised that it was the campaign's endeavours which had got the motion to the Council Chamber.

 

Councillor Nuala Geary closed the debate.

 

The motion as amended was put to the vote and it was unanimously

 

Resolved –

 

Council notes public concern over the future of Avery Hill Winter Garden and Mansion following the decision of the University of Greenwich to vacate the site in 2018. Council believes this unique and listed heritage asset must be protected and restored, with a revival of the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund forming part of any redevelopment, and proper involvement of the local community in the future of the site.

 

Council has long recognised the existence of three education covenants on the site and expects that an education tenant would be part of any redevelopment. Moreover, Council notes that the Leader of the Council is requesting a meeting with the University, the Winter Garden campaign lead, and others, to push the case to relaunch a new Heritage Lottery Fund bid aimed at ensuring that the future of this hidden gem is assured.

 

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