Open Meeting – discussion of Open Air Theatre proposal

At our regular Open Meeting on Tuesday 4 June we discussed the proposal by the Brighton Open Air Theatre group to landscape the bowling green area into a dedicated, raked, open-air theatre.

At our May meeting the members of the Friends group who attended had decided to withdraw our own proposal for a community garden, on the understanding that many of the features we had included (sensory garden, wildlife-friendly habitats, disabled access, seating, table-tennis table) could be incorporated in the BOAT proposal.

The BOAT proposal has since received provisional approval by various Council officers and Councillors and they are now embarking on more detailed discussions about the basis on which they would lease this part of the Park.

Much of the discussion at the June meeting focused on the extent to which Park users would have access to the area during the summer months, when it was being used as a theatre. After being shut out of the area for 20 years we are very keen to be able to enjoy it all year round.

We really welcome your opinions and comments on this issue, and look forward to seeing you at future meetings.
The next meeting will be 7.30pm, 2 July, Bowls Hut.
The minutes of our May meeting are here: FoDRP minutes 13.05
The minutes of our June meeting are here: FoDRP minutes 13.06.04


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One Response to Open Meeting – discussion of Open Air Theatre proposal

  1. David says:

    It was lovely to meet the Friends Of The Park at the meeting last night and to hear more from BOAT about their proposed ideas for the redevelopment of the bowling green.

    However, it did raise some concerns for me:

    1 The BOAT representatives spoke very much in terms of their idea being the only viable proposal and that it was essentially a fait accompli.

    I am concerned about this as there is currently a very low level of awareness about the future of the bowling green space amongst general users of the park, as well as amongst local residents living near by.

    2 The idea that a significant section of the park will be ‘restricted access’ to the public for, at the very least, large periods of the summer months is also a concern.

    The question of whether or not a private company should lease and control a large sector of a public park is something that, in my view, should be put to wider public debate.

    3 When asked about restricted public access in the future, the BOAT representative at the meeting last night replied “well it’s restricted now isn’t it?”

    Surely any discussion as to the future of the bowling green should revolve around the fact that the opportunity now arises for a larger part of the park to become available for public use all year round?

    Giving control of the space to a private company may not be the best way to achieve this.

    4 The question of maintenance seemed to play a part in the discussions, with BOAT suggesting that their involvement would mean the space was managed and looked after.

    There should surely be consideration given to the fact that this will include a certain amount of ‘self interest’ from the company as to protecting their investment in any infrastructure and landscaping developments they propose to construct.

    If another proposal such as an environmentally friendly ‘sensory garden/quiet space’ was to be adopted, maintenance issues would be of a reasonably low level and able to be covered on a voluntary basis as is the case with other successful projects at open green spaces in the city.

    As with the BOAT proposal itself, any alternative proposal that was adopted could use an online ‘crowd funding’ approach to cover ongoing costs, as well as raising funds from community based activities such as those already undertaken by the Friends Of The Park group.

    At the very least, I hope there will be a far wider public involvement in discussions about the future of the park before any binding decisions are made.

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