“My friends, Welcome to Fantasy Island.” Well, more like welcome to the geodesic dome covered Peckham Botanical Gardens to be located on Choumert Grove car park. Looking like something from a retro-future exhibition, geodesic domes were popularised by the American polymath Buckminster Fuller. His strong environmental credentials have ensured geodesic structures are the structure of choice for “alternative” communities and now for Peckham! Ok the botanical gardens under a dome, has a lot to do with the 1970’s film Silent running and of course the Eden project. This section of Southwark already boasts the wonderful Chumleigh Gardens in Burgess Park (currently undergoing renovation) and the assortment of gardens at Peckham Rye, but has no botanical “hot house” which Peckham botanical gardens could become. It could house a variety of tropical plant species, as well as a butterfly house. All in the name of conservation of course, with gift shops and cafés only a secondary consequence.
Turning Choumert grove car park into botanical gardens will of course be an inconvenience to the drivers that use it. Having sidelined cyclists in a previous posting with the suggestion the main cycle route through Peckham should be scrapped and the canal returned; it’s the drivers turn! Pedestrians and public transport users should not worry; I’ll be spreading the love real soon. The future of the Choumert grove car park is by no means secure. The possibility of redevelopment is high, which will probably take the form of a building on the site. This also raises question as to why the multi story car park is being underused for its main purpose of parking cars. Also the Belleden retail car park remains ( at Lidl) and also the Morrisons car park. A corner of constant summer would shift some of the general misery and drabness of winter. In a perverse reverse of Joni Mitchell’s Big yellow taxi future Peckhamites would declare “They brought back paradise and dug up a parking lot” How’s that for environmental credentials! Although further study of the song in particular the line “Took all the trees, put ’em in a tree museum /And charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em” could be interpreted as a critique of such botanical garden schemes – Bloody hippies!