Lottery windfall to breathe new life into local park

Wandle Park, from L to R: Meike Weiser, Julie Honey, Cllr. Jason Perry, Tom Sweeney and Ruth Coulson. Photo: Croydon Council

After 40 years buried beneath Croydon’s football pitches, the River Wandle is to resurface once again after a £2m lottery award to improve Wandle Park.

The grant means that Croydon Council and the Friends of Wandle Park, and with the help of the Environment Agency will restore the river which currently flows through a concrete pipe underground.

The joint award of £2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund will be added to the £400,000 from the Mayor of London’s ‘Help a London Park’ programme, the £1m from Barratt Homes development on the adjoining gas works site, and a contribution from the Council’s own ‘Parks To Be Proud Of’ scheme, pushing the park funding total over £3.5m.

Other plans for improvement involve a new play-space, bandstand, ballcourt and pond, as well as an upgrade to the skate park and the renovation of the pavilion to include an education space and café.

Wandle Park secured the second highest number of votes in the Mayor of London’s city-wide ‘Help a London Park’ scheme, in which Londoners voted for ten parks to receive funding for improvement across the capital.

It also ranked highly in the Council’s borough-wide consultation ‘Parks To Be Proud Of’, in which residents voted on which parks should receive funding, specifically asking for new benches, spring bulb planting, and the reinstatement of the river in Wandle Park.

Councillor Sara Bashford, said: “Wandle Park will be transformed into an idyllic green and blue destination, just minutes from the bustle of Croydon’s town centre.”

Dave Webb, Biodiversity Team Leader of the Environment Agency, said: “Opening up this culverted section of the Wandle will restore the river as the focal point of the park and provide a wonderful environment for people and wildlife.

“It will be a shining example of how to improve a local park while also managing flood risk, assisting with adaptation to climate change and creating a healthy river.”

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