Bromley park bridge remains unfixed amid no takers to do £500,000 replacement

Gita Bapat, 58, in Kelsey Park, Beckenham, Bromley
Gita Bapat, 58, said the north bridge of the park, which is not currently planned to be repaired, was in a 'shocking' state -Credit:Joe Coughlan

A contractor to carry out works to replace a bridge in a park in Bromley is yet to be found, with locals describing the state of the park's facilities as 'disgusting'. Bromley Council has confirmed that no formal bids were received on the tender opportunity to replace a bridge in Kelsey Park in Beckenham.

The north and south bridges of the park have been closed for a number of years, with the authority agreeing to spend £567,000 on repairing the south bridge in the park at a meeting in November 2022. However, no plans have been outlined to address the park’s north bridge, with council documents stating that the cost of maintaining and fixing both bridges could have stretched up to £1 million. The authority confirmed a new tender process for the works to the south bridge was due to begin soon.

Local resident Gita Bapat, 58, has come to Kelsey Park since she was a child. She said it was not practical to only repair one of the bridges in the park as people with incontinence or mobility issues may struggle to navigate the large space if they need to use the toilet facilities.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): "You have a house, you've got to maintain it because if you don't maintain it, it costs a lot more money."

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The south bridge of Kelsey Park, Beckenham, Bromley, London, UK
The south bridge of Kelsey Park, which is due to be repaired by the council -Credit:Joe Coughlan

Ms Bapat said that the north bridge has been left in a 'shocking' state and would like to see the repairs for the south bridge beginning in the near future. She said the park has seen a state of decline for several years and recalled when the water in the lake started becoming dirty.

The local added: "It was filthy and it stank. It was quite common to see rats along here."

Bromley Council announced in September 2023 that it had committed £2 million to support the health of waterbodies in its parks. The authority claimed Kelsey Park lake had been placed as a high priority for de-silting works which it hoped to have completed in the latter half of this year.

Local resident Steve Scott, 54, lives just off Kelsey Park and visits the space a couple of times a week to walk the dog. He said he understood the budget constraints of the council but felt the cost of replacing the south bridge was 'phenomenal' and the park was better maintained when the authority carried out works on it directly as opposed to using subcontractors.

Mr Scott told the LDRS: "It's just obviously got decrepit over the years. It used to be quite a smart park when I was younger."

He added: "The toilets are a disgrace and even the play park in there is very scruffy… My daughter would not use the toilets here, she said they're disgusting. Luckily, we live nearby and the gents is just about usable. We've complained about that."

Lib Dem Councillor Chloe-Jane Ross, representing the Beckenham Town and Copers Cope ward, told the LDRS that she remembered Kelsey Park as being the flagship park of the borough as a child. She said that she was trying find ways for Bromley Council to creatively use existing budgets to bring the park back to its former glory.

Kelsey Park, Beckenham, Bromley, London, UK
Kelsey Park sits beside Beckenham town centre in Bromley borough -Credit:Joe Coughlan

Cllr Ross said: "We're really disappointed that it's taken so long. This just goes to show that you need to look after your parks and if you neglect them over many years then it's expensive, complicated and takes a long time to get them back up to standard when things happen."

Bromley Council did not confirm whether the lack of formal bids for the tender opportunity to replace the park's south bridge had delayed the project, which is planned to be completed in the summer of this year. Conservative Councillor Will Rowlands, executive councillor for environment, told the LDRS that the authority would continue to work alongside the Friends of Kelsey Park group and share information with local residents on the progress being made in the green space. The council also plans to use £20,000 from the Platinum Jubilee Grant to introduce a new community garden area to the park for planting and growing activities.

Cllr Rowlands said: "Anyone who actually visits Kelsey Park will be able to testify to the enduring popularity of this park and there is always work to be done. It is public knowledge that the council is committed to spending £2.5 million in Kelsey Park in the coming months, with this substantial sum underlining the importance of this much loved park. This includes a project to de-silt and improve the lakes."

He added: "It is no secret that there were no formal bids in the original tender opportunity for the replacement bridge, which is a complex project but it is more important we get this right. Following a period of market engagement, a new tender process will be under way very shortly."

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