Appeal to retain historic Chislehurst Commons
» Worried residents have launched an appeal to save 180 acres of common land threatened with development.
The Trustees of Chislehurst and St Paul’s Cray Commons are facing a shortfall of £15,000 after Bromley council withdrew a large chunk of its contribution in its budget savings.
Vice chair of the commons’ Trustees Colin Yardley said: “This appeal is crucial to the future of the commons. If they are built over then it will change the character of the area radically and forever.”
The land is owned by the Lord of the Manor, Princess June Lobanov-Rostovsky, a niece of the last Viscount Marsham Townsend.
It is currently protected after a group of residents achieved the passing of a law to keep it as common land in 1888, giving the trustees rights to regulate it. But if they cease to exist they would revert back to the Lord of the Manor.
Princess Lobanov-Rostovsky gets revenue from any vehicle access between the commons, public roads and properties, as well as from utility companies for burying of pipelines.
Mr Yardley added: “Her motive could be to increase income with road widening, more access for utility companies and dare I say it, selling land to developers.
“But I am pretty confident that local people will come to our rescue. People need to realise this is common land not owned by the National Trust or by the council and the people must look after it.”
The commons cost around £100,000 to run, which includes two full-time keeper posts. Along with dozens of volunteers, they keep it clear of litter, fly-tipping and unsafe trees.
Commons’ Trustees chair Andrew Osmond said: “The commons are what make Chislehurst the place it is and they are what attracted me to the area 35 years ago.
“They are used extensively by people. We need to make sure that remains the story and people dig deep into their pockets.”
Councillor Colin Smith, responsible for environment, said: “We would have obviously liked to have maintained the higher level of funding the conservators were used to, but due to the recent well chronicled budget cuts, some reduction has been unavoidable.”
To donate, call the Trustees’ office on 0208 467 1886 or email darwinc@ntl world.com