Membership is open to all: your involvement will help us to preserve the Common for future generations to enjoy as we do.
See the FOBC web site at barnescommon.org.uk for more details.
For membership details contact Martin Conway, Treasurer, at:
1 Sycamore Lodge
1 Gypsy Lane
Barnes Common Management Company, created as a charitable operating company by the Friends of Barnes Common earlier this year, has begun to work with the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames on an interim basis, to undertake immediately necessary conservation work and to prepare a Master Plan for the common for the next three years and beyond. BCMC's hope is that it will then be appointed by LBRuT to undertake the 3rd sector management of the whole site (which will remain the responsibility of LBRuT by law) and to implement the Master Plan.
The Master Plan aims to cover every aspect of management, from litter bins and path maintenance through sports and amenity to conservation and the myriad of issues which arise in an open space like this, and to propose a cost effective solution for the management drawing on BCMC's own resources and those of other contractors and organisations. More than one hundred 'topics' have been identified, grouped under five headings: amenity and local community, wildlife conservation, education & training, management obligations and issues, finance and admin. BCMC is currently consulting with the Council, its existing contractors and other stakeholders so the Master Plan fully reflects the Council's requirements and aims, as well as the capabilities of its contractors. It will also discuss the Master Plan with BCA, BEST, Wetlands, Wimbledon & Putney Commons Conservators and the FOBC membership. The purpose is to maintain the common to the highest standards set by external assessors like Green Flag and London-in-Bloom, and the Master Plan will set service levels and outputs to achieve this. Quality, sustainability, along with cost effectiveness, rather than cost saving, will be the key criteria.
The educational element will include a number of strands to improve knowledge and understanding of the common, its history and habitats, one of which is internationally rare (lowland acid grassland). It is hoped that one of the pavilions at Vine Road Recreation Ground can be adapted as an information centre and meeting point for schools, young people, volunteers and others, while still available as a sports pavilion for cricketers and footballers. It might also provide office space for BCMC, adding a 'regular presence' mid-week for the recreation ground as well as the common. BCMC aims to improve its web services, with specific data on its habitats and species and extending to e-guides to the site. BCMC will build on FOBC's Yaffles group for young people and families, is encouraging a 'Forest School' for a local primary school, and will provide opportunities for DoE volunteering, school Make a Difference Days, corporate volunteering and conservation training.
The local community element will look to preserve the character of the common, while maintaining existing sports provision, encouraging walking for health and well-being(for casual users as well as organised guided walks), providing opportunities for volunteers and local involvement. BCMC hopes that the Master Plan will incorporate ideas for further improvement of the Vine Road Recreation Ground, subject to public consultation.
Wildlife conservation will implement agreements for Higher Level Stewardship of the common, with improved grassland management, more control of bracken and scrub, and regular woodland management. Subject to funding, BCMC hopes to restore or create more wetland habitat (restoring seasonal ponds and further improving along the Beverley Brook) linked to its educational aspirations. Our target is to restore the lowland acid grassland to 10ha from the present 7ha (already up from a low of 5ha) by 2020 with one third qualifying as category A species rich grassland (previously nil and currently 10%). We aim to thin the woodland to provide better access, but also a healthier range of tree maturity, with the removal of many non-native species, such as rubinia and holm oak, and the control of turkey oak and sycamore.
Management will cover all existing services and issues, but will address the lack of litterbins, a regular patrol looking after minor issues and providing more presence, security (better sight lines and fewer dark 'no-go' spaces), concerns about tree health (especially the chestnuts but also sycamore, oak and ash), barriers against unauthorised access, car parking, traffic concerns, cycle routes, and many other topics.
The Master Plan will seek to balance interests, but will start from the viewpoint that Barnes Common is a historic 'waste' which has survived more than 1,000 years which is also a Local Nature Reserve, a Site of Nature Conservation Importance and a Conservation Area, while Vine Road is a recreation ground which should maximise its amenity value for local residents and visitors.
The Master Plan is scheduled to be delivered to the Council before the year end, for a decision by end March.
Meantime BCMC and FOBC have continued their conservation work. They have mown the grass (leaving areas for over wintering of insects and small mammals), taking off over 400 bales of hay for recycling; have helped to clear the storm damage impacting footpaths and/or providing a safety hazard; are working with the Council to improve barriers against unauthorised vehicle entry, and are investigating aspects of the return of land to the common from the former goods yard. They have begun more bracken and scrub control, which will continue through the autumn and winter months.