A grand estate on the edge of one of the UK's most deprived areas is to be restored to try and spearhead a social renaissance thanks to a grant of £4.7m.
Beckenham Place Park will be opened up for greater use for the community after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund this week confirmed the grant.
HLF chief executive Ros Kerslake said: "It’s well-known that public parks play a vital role in our health and well-being. With this investment from National Lottery players combined with strong local engagement and support, there is real opportunity for the park to deliver huge benefits to the whole community."
London Borough of Lewisham will use the cash to regenerate the 95-hectare park, originally an impressive 18th century family estate with a lake, kitchen gardens and arboretum.
Today the park is on the edge of one of the UK’s most deprived areas and in decline. Visitor numbers have dropped to a critical low and its historic buildings are seriously damaged.
Historic parkland will be restored and the lake reinstated with wet woodland. The 18th-century home, currently derelict and propped up with scaffolding, will become a visitor hub with café, courtyard and education centre.
The 18th-century pleasure grounds will be reinstated with a contemporary design defined by seasonal ornamental planting and improved access. A derelict gardener’s cottage will be refurbished to form a base for volunteering.
The new park will also include a timber and natural play area, reed beds and boardwalks, a BMX track, a skate park, public toilets and provision for refreshments.
In addition to the physical changes that will attract more people to the park, the project will also provide local people with training, employment and education opportunities.
The park was originally the grounds of the grade II* listed Palladian-style Mansion House, home to John Cator, a wealthy 18th-century timber-wharf merchant and MP.
The house was largely uninhabited in the 19th century and in the 1900s was used as boy’s school and sanatorium. It was purchased by London County Council in 1927.
During the Second World War the park was a prisoner of war camp. Management transferred to the London Borough of Lewisham in 1972 and parts of the park including a golf course closed this year.