Work begins on Southbank's Jubilee Gardens

The project on London's Southbank finally gets going, with completion due before key 2012 events.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson broke ground last week in a ceremony to mark the start of work on the first new major public park in the capital for decades.

Jubilee Gardens on the Southbank is one of the mayor's Great Outdoors projects to transform humdrum spaces into well-designed areas. The park is due to be finished in time for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games.

The London Borough of Lambeth granted planning approval last December. The gardens will include lawns, 70 trees and flower beds.

The £5.1m park will feature granite pathways with gentle grades and raised seating edges, said landscape architect West 8, which has worked on the project for more than a decade. Funding came from the local authority and private sources such as Shell and EDF Energy.

Frosts Landscape Construction is building the park, due for completion next May, and will use 10,500sq m of turf, 700sq m of safety surfacing and 3,500sq m of granite.

The mayor said: "It is fantastic to see this previously unloved corner of the capital being transformed into an oasis. The new gardens will be accessible to all."

Labour MP for Vauxhall Kate Hoey complained that it had taken far too long for work to start. Meanwhile, Alan Bishop, chief executive of the nearby Southbank Centre, said the project would transform the "world's largest cultural quarter".

Trust backing

"Jubilee Gardens trustees have been working for a new Jubilee Gardens for many years.

"We are delighted that this new green landmark will be ready for the diamond jubilee and are committed to maintaining the gardens to the highest standards thereafter."

Ted Inman, chair, Jubilee Gardens Trust

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