South Bank's Jubilee Gardens wins £1.5m funding boost

Plans to transform a green space next to the London Eye, which had been stalled, are back on track after receiving a £1.5m cash boost from mayor Boris Johnson.

Jubilee Gardens gets grant. Image: South Bank Employers' Group
Jubilee Gardens gets grant. Image: South Bank Employers' Group

Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank could now be improved in time for the 2012 Olympics. Along with money committed through local landowners' section 106 agreements, around three-quarters of the funding required for the £5.5m scheme is now in place.

However, the park will look somewhat different from the plans created by Dutch landscape architecture firm West 8 back in 2005.

West 8 was appointed after an international contest and its designs included the creation of retaining walls to mimic the white cliffs of Dover as well as an undulating "English" landscape.

The Jubilee Gardens Steering Group (JGSG), made up of landowners, businesses, community groups and local authorities, is now launching a variation of the scheme to create a lush and green park with top-quality flower beds and many new trees. The revised plans are expected to be submitted for planning approval later this year.

West 8 project manager Maarten Buijs told HW the idea was to amend the previous design to "circumvent any elements that might cause objections or delay implementation".

"A number of elements in the previous designs would be difficult to construct," he admitted. "The initial idea was to design a park with an undulating landscape and white cliffs on the edges.

"The construction of the retaining walls and creation of the undulation were major stumbling blocks for some of the stakeholders surrounding the site."

The extra cash has come from Transport for London and funds are also being earmarked for the long-term maintenance of the site. The JGSG is now establishing a trust to manage the site for the future.

South Bank Employers' Group chief executive Ted Inman - a member of the steering group - explained: "[Jubilee Gardens] will be intensively used by local residents and employees and by millions of visitors.

"We are determined to deliver this exciting project in time for the Queen's diamond jubilee and London 2012."

Buijs added: "We are trying to hold on to a feeling of enclosure - so people can turn their backs on the hustle and bustle of London - as well as borrowing as much as possible from views across the River Thames. It will be a very pleasant place to be, right in the centre of London."

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