Wandle Park shortlisted for “exceptional design” award

£3.5 million was put into the development of Wandle Park. Pic: Cyrila Ringele

£3.5 million was put into the development of Wandle Park. Pic: Cyrila Ringele

One of Croydon’s most remarkable parks has been shortlisted for an award that recognizes exceptional landscape design and architecture.

Wandle Park is running for this year’s Landscape Institute Award in the category  for large-scale public development.

The Landscape Institute is the Royal Chartered institute for landscape architects. They work to protect and conserve the built environment for public benefit. The awards are presented every year to recognize outstanding architectural work that demonstrates a high level of commitment.

Crucial to this award was a massive £3.5 million development plan that brought back the park’s Victorian glory.

River Wandle was filled and grassed back in 1967 but restoration plans were made in 2010, to bring the river back to the surface and also to construct new facilities such as a cafe, changing facilities, pond, a new play space and a skate park.

In 2012 the entire park closed for its restoration, and last year the buried river was brought back to the surface. The new park improvement works also provide a restored rose garden, an outdoor gym, a ball court area and a new grand lawn.

Over 7,000 people attended the park’s reopening in July last year.

The project was funded by Croydon Council, the Mayor of London, the Heritage and Lottery funds, and Barratt Homes.

Councillor Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes and regeneration, said: “What we have seen is the comprehensive restoration of a historic urban park that has reconnected a community with its river.”

“Our green spaces are vital to the wellbeing of Croydon residents and the proximity of Wandle Park to the town centre is an important part of the regeneration work taking place in Croydon.”

“With thousands of new homes set to be built in the coming years, the park has a major role to play in providing a place of recreation for residents.”

She added: “Wandle Park would be a more than worthy recipient of this prestigious award.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This fantastic transformation of Croydon’s Wandle Park, with a multitude of new gardens and outdoor facilities, has also resurrected one of London’s lost rivers and returned it to the local community to enjoy.”

A worker at the park’s new café said she is aware of the award and believes it’s a great way to recognize the park’s effective restoration. She said: “More people come here now that the park is a safe place. It really was not safe before the reconstruction”.

A father from Croydon said: “I’m not aware of the award but I know about the park’s history. A lot of effort was put into recreating this place and we love it. My kids especially love the skate park. I do hope that Wandle Park gets recognized for its transformation”.

Last year’s winner in the design for a large scale public development category was Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, created by Grant Associates, a  British design team.

The 2014 LI Awards Ceremony will take place on November 27 at the Bloomsbury Big Top in Central London.

If you would like to attend you can buy tickets here

Before that Wandle Park is hosting a series of events such as its first outdoor cinema from October 23 to October 26 and the Wandle Park Wildflower Meadow Project on October 19, where volunteers can join to help create a beautiful landscape.

For more information and to book any of the events you can send an email to Tom Smith, Wandle Park volunteering and learning officer, at thomas.smith@croydon.gov.uk.

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