Monday, 5 July 2010

Oval Farmers Market and Future Plans for St Mark's churchyard

I skipped happily along to Oval Market this week to drink the apple juice, choose the cakes and have a crepe, so I was able to photograph the boards displaying the plans for Oval Market / St Mark's graveyard.  The new initiative appears to have been developed as a result of dicussions between Lambeth Council and the Oval Partnership.  I apologise for the quality of the shots.  They were taken on the phone camera which isn't a patch on a standard camera, and there was also a lot of pushing and shoving with lots of people trying to view the boards, so two of the photos have emerged in a pinkish hue.  Still, it's better that nothing, right?

The boards provide a little history of St Mark's Church, and the local area. Kennington Park Road, for example, still follows the old Roman route, originally named Stane Street and St Mark's was built on the site of the gallows of Kennington Common. (It looks as though the board writers cadged most of the history from the St Mark's website). In the past, I had heard it said that the burial ground was still Common land (hence being allowed to be used for the Saturday market and as a local cut-through). However, a little more digging has yielded the information that common rights over /both/ burial ground and church were extinguished by an Act of Parliament when the church was built. The church had to be conveyed from the Duchy (to whom it never belonged, on account of it being common land) across to the Church Commissioners by an Act of Parliament, which left it in the slightly odd situation that it was built, prior to gaining permission for it to be put in place!  In a twist of fate, however, the responsbiblity for management of the burial ground was handed back to Lambeth Council in 1950, so it has essentially become common land (or at least, shared space) once again.

The gist of the consultation was that the Churchyard needs some improvement on the basis that the paths are worn and become slippery, the playground requires upgrading, some of the trees are in poor health and a number of the tombstones in the grounds have been displaced and collapsed.  Additionally, there are no facilities for the use of stall-holders in the market.  The market management also wish to ensure that the market stalls are placed to ensure that the grass in the yard is not damaged.

There are two development options. 

The first is a simple plan to improve the paving around the memorial, stop people parking on the grass, replace and widen the path, install new drainage, add benches, repair the railings, plants some new trees, remove diseased trees, add a "natural play area", refurbish the playground,  add some kind of surface to reduce wear and tear under the market stalls, add electricity points for the market stalls, and install new lighting.

The second option includes all of the improvements contained in the first, but advocates the addition of an Oval shaped piece of land (which appears to be paved and is pictured with a detachable canopy) that could be used for the market as well as providing a dedicated space for other community events).

Neither option looks to be detrimental, unless one is concerned by the removal of grass that would be necessitated were option two to be adopted.

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