Despite Severe Financial Cutbacks, Parks In London England Are Benefitting From New Funding Schemes
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

January 25, 2015

Above, an artist’s impression of what the Walthamstow Wetlands could look like; the plan-ners believe that this stretch of Thames Path in Thamesmead could be a busy and bustling route. It has fantastic views of the river, and offers a direct walking and cycling connection between the residential area of Thamesmead and Woolwich town centre. The path is almost entirely off-road, and next to the river. That means the route will be safe and appealing to both leisure and commuter users. Below, a view from the proposed connection of the two wetlands in Hackney and Waltham Forest; and an example of Mayor Boris Johnson’s Pocket Parks, this one on Landor Road.



London England’s mayor Boris Johnson has revealed a new £900,000 (Cdn $3,722,266) pot of money for improving parks in London.

Members of the public are being asked to vote online for a series of green space improvements across the capital.

The Mayor’s Big Green Fund II [the original Green Fund was held last year] will provide grants of up to £175,000 (Cdn $325,698) towards environmental improvements including better walking and cycling links between green spaces and schemes that help to manage flood risk.

Seven projects have been identified by the Mayor and members of the public can give their support for their favourite schemes from today until March 2. Once the poll has concluded, the Mayor’s team will analyse the figures and determine which schemes to prioritise for funding.

The seven schemes cover the length and breadth of the capital and range from proposals to re-store a marsh in Stanmore to a project that would link two wetland wildlife reserves in Hackney and Walthamstow.

This latest round of funding follows the first Big Green Fund which spent £2 million (Cdn $3,722,266) on six environmental projects in Hounslow, Waltham Forest, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Bexley and Redbridge.

Johnson said: "London is growing by 100,000 people every year and while we are working hard to stimulate the construction of new homes and improve transport infrastructure, we also need better quality green spaces. There is absolutely no doubt that parks and green spaces in urban areas improve the wellbeing and quality of life of local people and through the Big Green Fund II we look forward to transforming sites across the capital that thousands of residents will en-joy."

The London deputy director at the Environment Agency Simon Hughes said: "We were delighted to help the mayor select suitable projects for the Big Green Fund. The public poll is a great way for Londoners to show their support for projects that will improve their local environment and achieve other benefits such as helping to reduce flood risk."

An example of one of the proposed projects is to connect the two new wetland centres being created at the Thames Water sites Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney and Walthamstow Wetlands in Waltham Forest. These reservoirs are just three km apart so it makes sense to give visitors the chance to enjoy both on the same day. A new green route will link these two sites with the nearby transport hubs of Manor House and Tottenham Hale.

We will also improve local streets by planting more trees, and create a new route through local parks and quiet roads, to encourage people to walk and cycle.

We want this new green corridor between two exciting new wetland destinations in north-east London to bring people closer to the wonderful landscape of the Lea Valley. Our aim is to in-spire people living in some of the most densely built areas of London to go outside, get active and explore the natural world.

Other green infrastructure projects championed by the mayor include planting 10,000 street trees by spring 2015 and the £2million (Cdn $3,722,266) ‘Pocket Park’ scheme. In 2008, the Mayor launched his Help a London Park scheme which saw Londoners vote for the parks they most wanted to see improved. Ten parks were each awarded £400,000 (Cdn $744,453) for improvement projects.

Mayor Johnson has called upon local volunteers and community groups to help create 100 more 'pocket parks' in London. The pocket park grant scheme allows community groups and local organizers to apply for grants of up to £20,000 (Cdn $37,222.) to help transform unloved spaces. The scheme is part of the Mayor's London's Great Outdoors programme which seeks to improve streets, squares, parks, canal and riverside spaces across London.

Pocket parks are designed to be small areas of inviting public space. They allow local communities to come together and decide what would most benefit their neighbourhood. There are currently around 60 projects underway, 11 of which are led by community groups.

Boris Johnson said: "It is so exciting to see my 'pocket parks' springing up all over London as this fantastic project to reinvest pint-sized plots of land goes from strength to strength. With help and support from local communities we are turning small and forgotten urban spaces into small green havens within the city and making London and even better place to love, work and invest."

Anita Konrad, director of Ground London, which is administering the scheme, said: "We were delighted with the imaginative pocket park proposals that local groups submitted in the first round of the scheme. These prove that small-scale community-led initiatives have the power to transform local neighbourhoods. We're now looking forward to more 'pocket park' ideas which will make this city an even better place to live, work and visit."


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