The new ‘super nursery’ will provide training facilities for Royal Parks apprentices and ensure more engagement with the public through open days at the new nursery.
TRP has been growing their own plants in the existing nurseries at Hyde Park and The Regent’s Park since for more than a century. The current nurseries date back to the late 1960s and are "now at the end of their useful life". TRP wants to modernise its main nursery at Hyde Park (1.6ha) and close the other smaller nursery at The Regent’s Park. The current glasshouses will be demolished by a specialist contractor, ahead of and in readiness for the new build, as a separate exercise to this tender.
Royal Parks director of programmes and projects Greg McErlean said: "Five or six years ago we were thinking about the need to raise money for the parks to cover the gap in Government funding which was constantly declining. We looked to outsource plant production off site and run the Hyde Park Nursery for some sort of additional public service to generate money for the parks. But as the years went on, we became concerned about the ability of the outsourcing market to supply the range or quality of plants we need. In October 2014, we decided to bring it back into our care and build a super nursery and consolidate the operation in that nursery, be proud and showcase and develop skills in it.
"We’re trying to change our status to a charity and the nursery could be a symbol of the new charity and be able to do things for the benefit of the parks."
He said the "huge range of plant varieties needed by the Royal Parks might be possible to get grown but might require many suppliers and require a large coordination effort and distribution hub." This meant it was easier to manage and quality assure plants by building its own nursery. McErlean added: "The external market is going narrower in range and higher in volume." Royal Parks requires 400,000 plants from 1,000 different bedding varieties each year, plus 200 species of hardier plant material. In summer 305 plant species are needed and in winter and spring, 65.
Funding came from a capital settlement with DCMS.
The deadline is May 6.
Contract start date is1 August 2016 and end date is 31 July 2017.