Save Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve: Children in limbo as fight for access to Dartmouth Park site continues

Campaigners outside of the locked gate to the Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve. Picture: Sam Volpe

Campaigners outside of the locked gate to the Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve. Picture: Sam Volpe - Credit: Archant

Schoolchildren hoping to use the Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve to learn about the environment remain in limbo more than two months after the sites owners changed the locks.

On June 12, a member of the Fitzpatrick family - who own the the Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve (also known as the Mark Fitzpatrick Nature Reserve) - appeared at the site and changed the locks, even as schoolchildren from the nearby Gospel Oak Primary were leaving.

At that stage the site was listed on an auction site, but after members of the Friends of Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve successfully confirmed an application for Asset of Community Value (ACV) status - which would give them the right to bid if the owners wished to sell the space - the listing was cancelled.

Since then, the owners have kept trustees of FoMTNR in the dark as to the site's future, but this means that school groups who would be gearing up to use the site when the new school year begins do not know if they will be able to access the site.

The community are to hold a picnic on the Heath on Sunday August 18 at 2pm to highlight the issue.

Emily O'Mara, one of the trustees leading the effort, told the Ham&High: "The owners just haven't been in touch.

"When we got the ACV status and the listing was taken down, we reached out to them through their lawyers to try and open a dialogue."

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"We just really want the kids to be able to use it.

"I was going around the doors and one of the women I knocked on about this said she had been taken to the reserve - it's being going on for generations, and now this year the reception class will miss out."

The land borders the railway line and has been a buffer against pollution for a century.

It had been managed by volunteer Jeanne Pendrill, who had a tenancy at will on the site, since 1987 but this has been terminated.

The Fitzpatrick family have not responded to this newspaper's requests for comment.

To join the picnic in support of the campaign for access, head to the space behind Parliament Hill Lido on Sunday