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Botanical Gardens consultation upsets TBOP

A public meeting to discuss the controversial plan to build a new Parks Department HQ in the heart of the Botanical Gardens has been described as “disappointing” by the action group, which has vehemently opposed the project.

The Government called the meeting at the Berkeley Institute cafetorium to explain why it wants to develop the old maintenance yard at the Gardens into a centre for 120 Parks staff, new staff parking, two new buildings, a water tower and a throughway.

However, a spokesman for Take Back Our Park said: “The presentation consisted of a short power point presentation, that was on a loop, and plans laid out on a table.

“Considering planning approval was given four years ago — when the scheme was advertised as 169 South Road and not the Botanical Gardens — and considering that the water tower is already there, and the site has been completely excavated, it is a bit late to be calling this meeting public consultation.

“Only a handful of government people were present and they appeared to have very limited knowledge of the scheme and no one directly involved in the project, or any decision-makers, were there. It could not be described as true consultation. It was very disappointing.”

Work on the new maintenance yard was stopped earlier this year when the Chief Justice granted a temporary injunction halting Government from proceeding with its plans.

Last week, the Government advertised the public meeting, which took place on November 10 — the night before a long weekend, and also placed the notice on the TBOP Facebook page.

The group agree that Parks staff need a new headquarters, but they say the Botanical Gardens is the “wrong place for a two-story water tower, a 30-foot high ‘L’ shaped prefabricated metal warehouse and one 100-foot long and 18-feet high building, all of which will be higher than the water tower.”

The spokesman added: “The people who attended the meeting were asked to put their questions into a ‘questions box’, and the advert for the event was, itself, misleading as it talked of the ‘refurbishment’ of the Parks maintenance yard, when everything has been knocked down.

“This area is zoned as protected parkland and we feel that having an industrial yard, particularly something as large as what’s being proposed, will be detrimental to the long-term character of the Gardens and the area should be returned to the park and a new site found for the long-suffering Parks staff.”