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Non-resident use of communal green/pond space outside Bayer House

We have been experiencing some disturbance -- from mild to extreme -- in the communal green/pond space behind the community centre. This ranges from groups of office workers who come to eat their lunch there on a regular basis, and who will often sit in the private garden areas just outside of the flats (these spaces we maintain ourselves, and are full of plants and flowers), even when asked not to do so. These groups of people make quite a lot of noise and also frequently are smokers, who dispose of their cigarette butts on the ground. Other incidents include groups of skateboarders, cyclists, and teenagers who use the area as though it is a public recreation space and create disturbance for surrounding residents; people bring their dogs to run around (even though dogs are prohibited on the estate in general); this weekend there were people filming a music video, which involved playing their music loudly for 3 hours, yelling and drinking beer, the bottles of which they left behind on the ground. (I'm aware, additionally, that a permit is required to film on the estate). Obviously, like all other areas on the estate, the sound from this space travels quickly and is amplified by the surrounding concrete surfaces. There are signs that say 'Quiet Please' and 'This is a private estate, for residents's use only' -- but these are either not seen or are entirely disregarded by members of the public who see this as an area they are entitled to use in whatever way they please, with little regard for the immediate community.

We have only been here since August, so I'm not sure if this has been raised before as an issue that needs addressing. It seems to me that this is the only communal space on the estate (aside from the children's playground) that is readily accessible to, and as such frequently used by the public, and we wonder why this is the case -- since the presence and behaviour of individuals from outside the estate can be quite disturbing, and also seems to us a violation of both privacy and the basic expectation that one might live in a reasonably peaceful environment. 

I have mentioned this to members of the estate office, who suggested that they might put up more signs. I'm not sure that this would be sufficient, since there already are signs, which clearly have no effect; but equally, no action has been taken since this conversation, which was roughly 6 weeks ago. 

I plan to go speak to the office again to see what they might be able to propose, but I wanted to check in here first to see if anyone has similar concerns, suggestions, etc. Comments are welcome!  

Thank you! Emily and Brian. 

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Hello Emily and Brian.  Well done for raising this issue.  I have lived here for 28 years, and Hatfield House lawn has been also taken over by office workers etc, to the point that residents are not able to use the area they pay for, when these people decide to use it as a public park!  This is indeed a private estate, and only residents should be using these areas.  Sadly, there has been little support from the Estate Office, although notices were put up, as you described, but they are ignored by these people.  Something more does need to be done.  We had a lot of littering problems from non residents on Hatfield House lawn, and bins were over flowing with their rubbish, which meant that our porters had to spend a lot of time clearing up, instead of focussing on what the residents pay them to do for our benefit.  Also, there is a problem with discarded cigarette butts.  All the bins by Hatfield House were removed some time ago, which helped to a degree, but more needs to be done.  
For example, there needs to be patrols from Estate staff, or those employed to do security patrols, to deter these people, and remind them its a private estate.  But, there has been no cooperation to do so.  I am very concerned about this issue, and thank you for raising it.  I am on the Committee for GLERA, although have been on sick leave from it for about a year now, but I certainly can raise this matter with them.  I know, in some areas in the City, smoking has been banned from public open areas, so don't see why the same cannot happen on a private estate, for a start.  Do get in touch with me.

Finally, I do have a little dog, due to winning the right over 20 years ago in Court, but I always make sure she is under control when we are on the estate, and I cannot remember the last time we went onto the lawn by Bayer House.  However, she is always well behaved, and loves the residents. 

Regards.

Dear Maria, 

Thank you so much for your reply! It's good to hear that others have noticed the same trends and have similar concerns. My main feeling is that residents shouldn't have to police these areas themselves in order to enjoy basic peace and privacy. I have repeatedly asked the same handful of people not to eat lunch in our private garden. The other evening, someone set off fireworks in the area by the pond, which fell perilously close to the roof of the community centre. These sites are paid for by the residents and as such simply shouldn't be used by the public as recreational sites. Additionally, I'm aware that we pay for them to be patrolled. Both of these points are neglected by the Estate Office team, or are dysfunctional in their implementation, and so it seems obvious to me that they are responsible to come up with a solution that adequately addresses these issues and provides for GLE residents. I'd be happy to be in contact with you further about any of this, and it would be great if you could raise it with the GLERA. I haven't been to speak to the Office again yet, but I will keep in touch about any progress. 

All best, 

Emily and Brian 

Belated welcome to Golden Lane Emily, and Brian,

The square to the front of Cullum Welch abutting the rear of Crescent House, is often used by various media types for filming, photography, incontinent pub urinators, and by teenagers, children, for skateboarding, sadly the City of London Corporation has neglected to provide for the younger generation within the City, and its estates, there are no large external spaces for them to cycle/skateboard etc.

Councillors need to bring this up with the relevant department, children need outdoor spaces, perhaps some space can be allocated for them somewhere, within one of the underground car parks at the Barbican? maybe consideration should be given for funding outdoor recreational spaces within the City, if space can be found, or within the immediate neighbouring boroughs. The Corporation should allow ALL residents of the City access to the gardens on Fann Street.

The open spaces within Golden Lane are and have always been "open and inviting", non residents will wonder in and out, it is very difficult for the limited number of estate staff to patrol these areas.

The other drastic option might be to install perimeter railings n keeping with existing railings, key operated gates as in the Barbican residential areas, perhaps with some mature internal plating as by,

Hatfield House:

Bowater House:

Cuthbert Harrowing House:

This would increase the security of Golden Lane too, time for a Golden Lane consultation??

Thanks for your welcome, Hussain! We're really happy here; it's a lovely community and a great place to live. That said! Issues with the green space by the pond continue. I think the points and ideas you have raised in terms of reasons for particular behaviours, as well as how they might be effectively addressed, are very good -- we will raise these with the Estate Office when we speak with them! (This hasn't been possible yet, due to their slightly restrictive opening hours, during which we are almost always at work). It was amazing to see the wonderful fireworks display on Sunday evening -- which is the kind of activity the space should be used for. It's also great to see residents and their children in this area playing -- these kinds of outside areas are so necessary in a dense urban environment. Alongside this peaceful, respectful use, however, we continue to have people smoking and drinking in the area, often late at night; some kids stole fireworks after the exhibit on Sunday evening and threw them around, some ended up right by our steps; and the other day I saw 4 youths pressing their bare bums agains the windows of the community centre; and so on. I think the fact that the area is unsupervised and recessed, as well as not clearly signed or marked off, means that it encourages anti-social behaviour; people feel they cannot be seen, and act accordingly. I notice that in the small rotunda with trees, as well as at the edge of the lawn in front of Basterfield House, there are gates with a lock and code, insuring that they be accessed only by residents. The pond area is similar as a space, in that it directly accesses the flats and gardens of Bayer House. (As you note, Cuthbert Harrowing and Bowater house also have their green spaces offset by reinforced railings.) It seems to me that something as simple as this, as well as some extra signage, would go a long way to making the area more fruitful as well as more secure for the use of residents. There is no real reason for it to be accessible to the public, as there are right of ways on both sides through which pedestrians can access Goswell road and Golden Lane. 

I will keep you posted about any progress, but do get in touch if you have further suggestions or concerns! 

Emily and Brian

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