Mike Bird, a little-known writer for the City AM Newspaper, was embroiled in a vicious online war of words after he tweeted about his desire to concrete over Blackheath. Bird, who tweets with the handle ‘Birdyword’ told his followers that ‘Every time I see an open space in London all I think is ‘could build houses there’. So much space in Blackheath.’ Bird sent further tweets arguing that ‘we’ve gone … too far in having open space’.
Blackheath residents were up in arms at Mr Bird’s suggestion, with one asking “…wait, what?! Residents don’t need public green space for wellbeing: running, walking, exercising dogs. Idiot.”
Insect identification expert David Notten attempted to inform Mr Bird of Blackheath’s ecological benefits: “#Blackheath is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation… [I] have personally seen 749 species animal/plant on #Blackheath so far incl. 40 with conservation status listings’.
Sam Bowman, of the libertarian Adam Smith Institute think-tank, told the Backbencher “Bird is right that we need more housing, but concreting over our inner city parks isn’t the way to achieve that. If we reduced planning restrictions on existing developments in cities, we would make denser housing more viable within London, and by rolling the Green Belt by just one mile we would create space for one million new homes. Destroying Britain’s city parks might seem like a good idea to people like Mr Bird, but the truth is that we could solve the housing crisis much more easily without taking away what are, ultimately, many people’s only local natural amenities.”
Attempts to reach Bird for comment failed, with friends on Twitter suggesting he was holed up in a large Yorkshire estate, with many acres of green and pleasant land surrounding it.