Wandle Valley alliance formed

Newly-formed trust plans to turn south London's patchwork of green spaces into regional park.

Green-space leaders have forged an alliance to take over, fund and run 1,800ha of some of London's most historic green spaces.

Charitable company the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust, which was formed last week, plans to turn the vast patchwork of spaces from Croydon and Sutton to Merton and Wandsworth and towards the River Thames into a regional park.

Chief executive Peter Wilkinson said: "We aim to draw up a business plan in January for the next 10 years and beyond. We will look at how much we need and what we want to spend it on.

"We want to integrate the four local boroughs and green-space managers into a more coherent whole to create a better resource that will attract more people. We hope to draw money from businesses, lottery, charities and the London mayor."

Wilkinson said this would help raise the trust's funds from £70,000 to millions. It is already supporting a £1.8m Heritage Lottery Fund bid to bring the valley's biodiversity and cultural heritage closer to the public.

The area used to be run by an amalgam of organisations, such as the local authorities, Wandle Trust and London Wildlife Trust. Wilkinson said he wanted to use a Green Flag-type baseline quality audit to identify standards across the entire area.

"It's getting people to think beyond the current problem with public-sector funding to a time when we can be more ambitious, which means more money for maintenance," he said.

The trust is made up of 11 groups including Natural England, the Environment Agency and South London Business as well as the London Boroughs of Wandsworth, Sutton, Croydon and Merton.

Wandle Trust view

"It will create a good environment that helps bring jobs, growth and prosperity to the Wandle Valley and helps us to get the organisation in place so we can take the creation of the regional park to the next level."

Nic Durston, chair, wandle valley regional park trust

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