Demolition of the dilapidated 1960s nursery is now complete, with work about to start on the 8,000 square metre glasshouse which will have 40% more production space than the previous nursery in almost the same floorspace.
The nursery will be constructed by Deforche Construct NV and Climate Controls and is understood be the first major glasshouse production facility in the UK to use Deforche Cabrio technology which can open and close depending on weather.
The roof will help the acclimatisation of young plants, so they do not have to be moved outside for hardening – saving on labour and maximising space. Inside the glasshouse is split into 13 climate-controlled zones.
The Royal Parks (TRP) said the nursery will save £200,000 per year on its planting costs and will also be used for apprentice training and community workshops and open days. It will also feature a rainwater recovery system, LED lighting and existing boilers fitted with new flues to ensure maximum energy efficiency.
Previously TPA grew 80% of its flowers and shrubs and bought in the remaining 20% from the City of London Corporation, in a contract which recently ended.
Head of special projects Steve Edwards said TPA had to decide between building a brand new nursery or outsourcing all plant production but that most commercial nurseries grow a maximum of 100 varieties compared to the 2,000 varieties TPA requires.
"We were simply not prepared to sacrifice the high standard of horticultural excellence that millions of visitors each year have come to expect.
The new contract will ultimately save us around £200,000 a year through things like the reduction of energy expenditure and wastage, so in time the new nursery will actually pay for itself.
"By not outsourcing the nursery service, we will also reduce the need for transportation, which benefits the environment. Sustainability has been at the very forefront of this project and we have selected a design which meets the highest environmental standards. Furthermore 99% of materials from the demolished nursery are being recycled."
A small nursery in The Regent’s Park will continue to be used during building work and will close once the super nursery is in operation. TRP will seek expressions of interest for this site next year. The new nursery is expected to be operational by summer 2017.