The notice put up on the garden gates this week introduced new rules for the use of the gardens during the pandemic restrictions. This is the third notice displayed seeking observance of the government restrictions on being out of our homes. The notices have had to be increasingly directive as some people have either not understood the restrictions or have chosen not to comply with them, putting in question our ability to keep the gardens open.
The Board’s overriding aim during this pandemic is to keep the gardens open for the use of residents. At the same time, every effort must be made to protect the health and well-being of the gardeners and the residents themselves, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable.
With most people at home, the gardens have been heavily used on warm days and we have received comments from residents about the difficulty of maintaining social distancing with so many people spending long spells in the gardens. We have been told of people congregating in groups in defiance of government restrictions. We are aware that a number of calls have already been made to the police by residents complaining that the government restrictions are being ignored in the gardens. A visit by police who sought to advise people of activities permitted and those not permitted was abruptly terminated by a resident who asked them to leave on the basis that the gardens are private.
There is no question that the gardens are private, but they do not form part of anyone’s home. The legislation behind the restrictions requires us all to stay at home, except in a limited number of specified circumstances. We may leave our homes for a daily hour of exercise, alone or with other members of our household only. Therefore, using the gardens for purposes other than exercise is not a permitted reason for being there and people doing this are contravening the law.
Our concern is that if the offending behaviours continue and further calls to the police result, the police and local authorities will seek to close the gardens as a potential focus of transmission of the virus. This would be a failure for the estate and a very bad outcome for all garden users. We need all keyholders to observe the law and to enable the gardens to remain open during the emergency period. We look forward to the day when the restrictions may be lifted and keyholders can resume their normal enjoyment of the gardens.
Kemp Town Enclosures is a communal garden, owned collectively by the freeholders of the 105 houses that make up the Kemp Town Estate. Developed in the 1820's by Thomas Kemp, the Estate consists of Sussex Square, Lewes Crescent, Chichester Terrace and Arundel Terrace.