Is anyone else watching Kevin McCloud And The Big Town Plan ( I’m thinking of getting a copy of this week’s episode, on three different parks being regenerated in rundown areas of ex-mining town Castleford, and sending it to our council.

Of the three parks, two were planned and designed with plenty of input from the local community. Kids, parents, teenagers, everyone said what they wanted and, in one case, forced the high-minded designers to listen to them. The results? Two parks that were much-loved and well-used. The parks delivered what the local people needed.

Both parks cost tiny amounts of money to renovate (one was under £80,000); one was so well-used it became a victim of its own success – and even here, because of its popularity, the community turned out to keep it maintained and vandal-free. But what of the third park?

Paid for by government quango English Partnerships, the village green of New Fryston (just outside Castleford), got a massive million pounds for the overhaul designed by globetrotting US diva Martha Schwartz.

Martha didn’t believe in too much consultation. What the locals wanted didn’t count much to her, or by the look of it English Partnerships, or even the MP and government minister who turned up to open the park (without anyone attending to open it to).

So, while the New Fryston locals kept asking for a decent community centre (their current one was a tin shed), Martha dreamt up ever-more elaborate gardens to the approval of the quango and local council morons. In the end, her park (minus community centre) mainly consisted of a bunch of stone ramps and a giant stone finger in the middle – calling to mind a certain “landmark” tower planned for round here. So how did giving locals the finger (as Kevin McCloud put it) work out for Martha’s park?

The park was left to seed, without being maintained, and was clearly unused and much-hated by the local community. Meanwhile, it emerged the park was really there not for the current village, but to attract developers for the massive housing estate Castleford council had planned to build around New Fryston. Even the new people moving in weren’t getting a good green space. Just one that impressed developers.

Villagers complained that the reasons they’d moved to New Fryston in the first place (the open spaces, the quiet) were being destroyed. But Martha and English Partnerships were long gone (like The Prince’s Foundation round here). And the council? Well, they probably just shifted uncomfortably and muttered something about plans being on consultation.

The parallels were striking. So… what could Waltham Forest council learn from Martha’s park and the Big Town Plan? Asking us what we, the community want, before they decide for us – that’d be a good start. Please don’t give us the finger…