Walpole Park Improvements Begin

Landscape to be restored and community facilities added

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A £2.4million project to rejuvenate Walpole Park will start this week. Construction of the park’s new learning centre will kick-start the work, with hoarding around the old Rick Yard site going up Monday (19 August).

Longcross Construction Ltd was chosen last month to construct the new building, which will provide a space for youth and community groups, schools, families and adults to meet, run a range of activities and host events. It will also house the park’s new toilet facilities and kiosk.

The new Rick Yard will be located behind the playground in Walpole Park, on the site of an old cowshed which housed hay ricks in the 1800s. It will feature a system that collects and reuses rainwater in the building's toilets, as well as a flat, turfed roof that will be planted with flowers and shrubs to provide a habitat for bees and other insects.

Construction of the Rick Yard marks the first stage of Walpole Park’s extensive improvement works. In 2011, the park was awarded a grant worth £2.4million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to improve and restore the historic landscape and build more community facilities. A grant of £99,500 was also contributed from The Veolia Environmental Trust, through its Landfill Communities Fund, to go towards building the Rick Yard.

Work to improve the park will begin next month, with the landscaping contractors, Gavin Jones Ltd, moving onsite from 16 September. The improvements will focus on restoring the park to how it would have been in the 1800s, in the time of Pitzhanger Manor architect, Sir John Soane.

The work will take place in phases, with certain sections of the park closed off at different times. The first area to be worked on will be the stretch of land behind Pitzhanger Manor, running parallel to Mattock Lane and reaching down to, but not including, the playground. This includes the area around Spencer’s Café, so the council is currently working to identify a suitable location in the park for a temporary cafe, which would be run by the current café leaseholders.

The improvement work means that some of the park’s entrances will be closed at times, however visitors will always be able to access Walpole Park from both the Lammas Park and Pitzhanger Manor entrances.

The phased park improvement works will include improving wheelchair and buggy access throughout the park, repaving and widening the pathways, as well as restoring the heritage bridge, stonework and water features. New grass will be sown in some areas of the park, regency species of trees and flowers will be planted and some areas of ground will be excavated to uncover the heritage landscape. Regency style ornaments and wooden benches will also be installed, and the ponds will be restored to their former glory with better habitats created for local wildlife. New playground equipment will also be installed as part of the improvements.

To enable the work to take place, six trees and nine benches with memorial plaques will be removed in September. The council is asking people who have a special interest in the plaques to come forward to help decide on a new location for their memorial within Walpole Park. Please contact Walpole Park manager, Emma Allen, on allene@ealing.gov.uk or 020 8825 7444. The Princess Diana tree will also be removed, and the plaque rehomed on a new tree elsewhere in Walpole Park.

Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: “It is fantastic that the improvement works in Walpole Park are finally getting off the ground. A great deal of time and effort has already gone into this project, and I’m looking forward to seeing the park’s heritage come to life and for it to become a hub of community activity.

“We are doing everything possible to minimise the inconvenience to visitors while the improvement works take place and I’m confident the finished product will be well and truly worth it.”

The new Rick Yard building is expected to be complete by March 2014 and the park works are due to wrap-up in June of the same year.

Ealing Summer Festivals will go ahead in Walpole Park as usual next year, although the events may take place in a different location within the park. More information will be made available closer to the time.

For more information about the Walpole Park improvement project, please email pmgwalpole@ealing.gov.uk

August 20, 2013

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