Vehicle depot transformed into natural play area

An unsightly vehicle depot next to a Grade II-listed building in south London is to be torn up and replaced with landscaping designed for natural play in a £1m makeover.

Southwark Council's planning committee last week approved plans to demolish the hard surfaced area close to the Chumleigh Gardens historic almshouses.

The site, which is zoned as Metropolitan Open Land, is to incorporate a new terraced area, as well as a "playable landscape", allowing for natural play on rocks, logs and in water jets.

The council's parks manager Jon Sheaff said the plans would improve the area for residents as well as visitors to neighbouring Burgess Park.

"It will be a transformation and I am really excited about it," he said.

"People living in the properties across the road will be able to see a whole variety of textures of soft and hard landscaping. It will look stunning; there are huge piles of rubbish here now and they will all be gone."

Two polytunnels are currently on the site, which are to be moved to another location, where they will be used as a plant nursery and for a horticultural and propagation training scheme run with environmental charity Groundwork London.

Under the tree-removal plan, small self-seeded sycamores will be taken out - replacement tree planting is to be provided at a ratio of two trees for one removed. They will be semi-mature and either pleached limes or Lombardy poplars.

A lawn will be created on mounds with low-growing ornamental grasses to provide texture. A new cafe will also be part of the plans.

- See interview, p17.

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