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Burgess Park:

a new urban landscape for London

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

The European context

New Urban Landscapes was a European Union funded project to explore socially compatible ways to develop urban landscapes. It was part of the European Unions Interreg IIC programme which encourages research, development and partnership building across urban areas in North West Europe, in the context of the European Spatial Development Perspective. Sustainable and Accessible Urban Landscapes (SAUL) is the development phase of New Urban Landscapes, which aims to address the key issue of 'the vital role of socially inclusive spaces in the sustainable development of metropolitan regions. It is funded by the European Unions Interreg IIIB programme, which encourages closer co-operation and integration through transnational spatial development initiatives which promote sustainable development. Six metropolitan regions of North West Europe are represented in the SAUL Partnership: London (with two partners); Saarland; Frankfurt/Rhein-Main; Nordrhein-Westfalen (the Rhein-Ruhr region, with two partners); the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg; and the Municipality of Amsterdam.

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

Meeting the challenges together


Burgess Park is one of the largest and most important public parks in South London. Burgess Park: A new urban landscape for London aims to: Burgess Park is a valuable place with an exciting future. We hope this document will focus attention on the key challenges and how we can work together to meet them. Cllr Richard Thomas Executive Member for Environment and Transport, Southwark Council Burgess Park is owned by Southwark Council. Jeremy Bennett Chair, Groundwork Southwark The organisation which has taken the lead on environmental improvements to the park. James Da Costa Chair, Friends of Burgess Park A voluntary group with the remit to enhance, promote and protect the park, involving the local community in decision making.

focus attention on the major issues


affecting Burgess Park highlight the metropolitan significance of Burgess Park present Burgess Park in the context of post-industrial European parks raise the profile of Burgess Park and encourage discussion about its future. The publication of this document follows a conference last year on the future of Burgess Park, organised by Southwark Council, The Friends of Burgess Park and Groundwork Southwark - partners in the regeneration of the park. The conference was prompted by New Urban Landscapes - a European Union funded project to consider new types of urban open space in post-industrial Europe. Burgess Park was one of two London parks selected to take part in this initiative. The findings of New Urban Landscapes are being developed through a new European Union funded project, Sustainable and Accessible Urban Landscapes (SAUL), through which Burgess Park will receive funding.

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

Temple

Blackfriars

Bank Monument Cannon Street

CITY

WESTMINSTER

Embankment

Charing Cross

Westminster

Vauxhall

0.25

0.5 mile

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

Numerous bus routes pass within metres of Burgess Parks entrances

Burgess Park has the potential to be one of Londons great metropolitan parks.

Burgess Park has the potential to be one of Londons great metropolitan parks - a park bringing benefits not just to those living nearby but attracting visitors from across a much wider area. Its size and location are certainly of metropolitan significance. Burgess Park occupies 54 hectares (the size of St James Park and Green Park put together) less than two miles from Westminster Bridge.

Creating Burgess Park has been a major achievement. Of all the parks in Southwark, only Dulwich Park (an historic Victorian Park) has more visitors. Yet much remains to be done in Burgess Park in order to attract people from outside the immediate area. The foundations of a great park have been established. We now need to move forward.

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

Former almshouses at Chumleigh Gardens, Burgess Park

A post-industrial park
Created from land formerly occupied by houses, factories, roads and canals, Burgess Park is a good example of a post-industrial park. Ken Worpole, one of Britains most influential writers on urban and social policy, has described four distinct phases in European park planning from the Victorian era to the present day. Great Victorian and early 20th century parks These were often created from the gardens of large houses bequeathed to the local authority, or from green land protected for public use. People had a vision of the type of park they wanted to create, possibly designed to attract people with a specific interest (eg. botany, band concerts, promenading). Examples: Victoria Park (London); Vondel Park (Amsterdam); Luxembourg Gardens (Paris). Pleasure gardens These are a mixture of park, fairground, open-air museum, concert halls and restaurants. The parks were not afraid to mix public open space with attractions which had to be paid for. Examples: Tivoli (Copenhagen); Skansen (Stockholm). Modern and post-modern city parks Often the result of strong civic vision and a belief in the importance of outdoor recreation, these parks were backed by large scale public funding (often with some commercial facilities). Examples: Parc Villette and Park Andre Citroen (Paris); Park Industriel (Barcelona). Post-industrial parks The post-industrial park is often created by land assembled from many sources, resulting in difficult shapes and boundaries. Transforming industrial land into popular urban parks presents particular challenges, quite unlike those faced by planners in previous eras. There is no coherent design tradition for post-industrial parks. Examples: Steelworks Park (Duisberg, Germany); Burgess Park, London. Cities across Europe are facing the challenge of creating appropriate urban open spaces in a post-industrial age. Like other post-industrial parks across Europe, Burgess Park has to meet the challenges of its heritage. What kind of large-scale parks do we now need? What should be our vision for public parks, and how can they be funded?

Burgess Parks development is being funded via Sustainable and Accessible Urban Landscapes (SAUL), a European initiative which seeks to promote socially inclusive spaces in the development of metropolitan regions. For information visit www.saulproject.net and www.nweurope.org

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

Like other post-industrial parks across Europe, Burgess Park has to meet the challenges of its heritage.

What makes a metropolitan park?


The vision of Burgess Park as a metropolitan resource is crucial to its future success. So what is a metropolitan park? In planning terms, a metropolitan park is somewhere of significance to a wider group than those who live in the immediate area. However, definitions of a metropolitan park vary. For example, the European Union and Greater London Authority use slightly different definitions. Southwark Council, Groundwork Southwark and the Friends of Burgess Park suggest the following characteristics as helping to define what makes a metropolitan park. This is not intended to be the ultimate definition. Rather we aim to focus discussion on what makes a metropolitan park, in the context of the future development of Burgess Park.

A metropolitan park must be easy to get


to by public transport, cycling and on foot (you shouldnt need a car in order to use it)

It should be of a significant size and have


its own individual character or unifying theme

It should meet the needs of the people


who live in the region, offering formal or informal activities - such as concerts, fairs and other events

A metropolitan park should include


facilities or attractions that encourage people to visit

Although attracting people from a wider


area a metropolitan park should retain its community focus

The management and development of


the park must be appropriate to the scale of the park.

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

A redesigned underpass links the two halves of the park

Unfinished business
Creating Burgess Park has been a major achievement. But much of the land remains underdeveloped, with little to attract visitors or encourage them to linger. Burgess Park was created by the demolition of older houses, factories and schools which started in the 1950s. But it was only in 1982 that the different pieces of land were finally linked together and the last industrial unit on the site was removed as recently as 2002. Creating Burgess Park has therefore been a slow and incremental process. The parks history and industrial heritage present significant challenges: A number of opportunities are now coming together to create significant opportunities for the park:

Burgess Park needs to develop a clear


identity - physically and corporately - that can be marketed. Burgess Park needs a coherent development plan that is deliverable Burgess Park is not easy to get to by public transport. It needs to be made more accessible. The proposed tram line could help in this respect. Funding is vital to Burgess Park. Money must be found (from one source or several sources) to deliver the development plan and improve management and maintenance The fear of crime needs to be reduced, so that people feel safe coming to Burgess Park Burgess Park should be a resource for a large part of South London - otherwise there is no reason for it to retain its 54 hectares.

Southwark Councils continued strategy


to invest in its parks and open spaces

1.4 million current external funding


allocated to projects in the park

Burgess Park is included in the European


Union funded Sustainable and Accessible Urban Landscapes (SAUL), which will contribute capital funding and planning advice and expertise from across Europe The new tram line from Peckham to Kings Cross will make access to the park far easier, although there will be serious issues concerning its route The regeneration of the neighbouring estates will also bring benefits to Burgess Park Southwark Council is considering handing the management of the park to a Community Development Trust. Is Burgess Park a metropolitan park? Earlier we looked at the characteristics of a metropolitan park. But is Burgess Park a metropolitan park? If not, why not? And what needs to change. The following points come from discussions at the conference.

remnants of former roads still remain the paths follow the lines of former roads,
not necessarily what is needed now

gas, water and electricity services remain


underground, requiring costly removal before any large-scale earth movement can begin Burgess Park is long and thin with lots of boundary (created from several sections of land joined together) The ground has much brick rubble and demolished material under the soil. Although large, the infrastructure and facilities needed by a park of this size have not, so far, been created. Much of the park remains in poor condition, despite some significant improvements, most notably:

Burgess Park is only a metropolitan


park by virtue of its size, not because of what it offers. There are not enough attractions to sustain a long visit and people dont really know about it. There needs to be more to do in the park, so it can be marketed as a metropolitan facility Major attractions are needed. Suggestions included: larger childrens play area; ski slope; mountain bike area; climbing wall; outdoor theatre; a mixture of free and paid-for activities; an urban centre for sustainable technologies or healthy living centre. There need to be activities and facilities for all abilities and price ranges

improved entrance from Old Kent Road improved Wells Way underpass tree-lined avenue along the route of the
old Surrey Canal

The Heart of the Park Chumleigh Gardens Multi-Cultural Garden Restoration of the historic lime kiln
Despite this under-investment, Burgess Park attracts 3.5 million visits a year from around 132,000 people.

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

Although large, the infrastructure and facilities needed by a park of this size have not, so far, been created.

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

Fishing on the lake near Cobourg School, Burgess Park

The future of Burgess Park will be influenced by the policies of central and local government as well as Europe.

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

Work in progress on completely new grassed football pitches

The planning context


A brief overview of local, regional, national and European policies which could affect the future of Burgess Park. The future of Burgess Park will be influenced by the policies of central and local government as well as Europe. This section gives a very brief summary of the major planning context as it may affect Burgess Park. National planning The government has recently revised its 1991 Planning Policy Guidance Note (PPG17) to include reference to open spaces. The new PPG17 (Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation, 2002) is designed to cover major recreational facilities or centres of regional, national or international importance. Issues covered by the Planning Guidance include: Planning guidance affecting Metropolitan Open Land will therefore have an impact on planning for Burgess Park. The governments Urban Green Spaces Taskforce also looks at the issue of metropolitan open land and makes many recommendations to the government about urban parks. It stresses the importance of strategic planning for green spaces. As its formal response to the work of the Taskforce, the government produced Living Places, a document that sets out its approach to making cleaner, safer, greener public spaces. Living Spaces explains why our public spaces are important, and identifies key components that underpin successful schemes - committed leadership, strong partnerships, active community involvement, desire for quality and innovation, and better communication and sharing of ideas. Burgess Park could also be affected by Regional Planning Guidance which covers major recreational facilities or centres of regional, national or international importance. London planning The Greater London Authority (GLA) neither owns nor manages parks, but it nonetheless has a role in establishing the strategic and planning framework for open space in the capital, and encouraging partnership working. In 2001, the GLA formed a Green Space Investigative Committee which reviewed open space in the capital and made several specific recommendations. One of these is that the GLA create a London Parks and Green Spaces Forum. This is now being created and is likely to have an impact on how Burgess Park develops in future. The GLAs draft London Plan includes policies on open spaces and should describe where metropolitan parks, such as Burgess Park, fit within the new policy framework. Planners at the GLA are also encouraging boroughs to draw up their own open space strategies. To help them, the GLA will publish a guide to producing strategies, including information on key issues and guidance. Southwark piloted this approach. European planning New Urban Landscapes was a European Union funded project to address the threats to urban open spaces in a postindustrial age. Sustainable and Accessible Urban Landscapes (SAUL) is the development phase of New Urban Landscapes, which aims to address the key issue of the vital role of socially inclusive spaces in the sustainable development of metropolitan regions (see inside front cover).

accessibility wider regional value accommodating multiple uses contributing to wider social or
regeneration objectives functions of area improved design and quality reduced crime. It is interesting to note that all these are all topics which have arisen in discussions about the future of Burgess Park. Regional planning Burgess Park is largely created from land designated as Metropolitan Open Land. This is land which:

has significance beyond Southwark contributes to the physical structure


of London provides open air facilities for a wide area offers features and recreation of value at metropolitan level (ie not just for Southwark).

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

The restored lime kiln in Burgess Park

Time for a vision


Extract from a speech by David Lambert, member of the governments Urban Green Spaces Taskforce, and chair of the Burgess Park Conference 2002. It is clear that Burgess Park cannot stay as it is. Although regarded with affection by many and representing a great deal of hard work by the community, the council and Groundwork, it remains a kind of vacuum which will continue to attract more or less inappropriate ideas and activities unless or until it is given a positive identity. And there is a fantastic opportunity now, with the rise of urban parks up the local and national political agendas. There is a fantastic opportunity now, with the rise of urban parks up the political agenda Tim Marshall, former deputy director of the Central Park Conservancy in New York, compared urban park regeneration to a three-legged stool. One leg is the capital restoration work. The second is maintenance. And the third, less familiar to us, is what he called programming, or the involvement of the community in activities and management, outreach and education. Without one of these legs - and for us Id draw attention to the third - the stool wont stand up. We have to remember that public parks are for people, and if people arent using them, or have reservations about them for security reasons, or because of a lack of interest or facilities or features, then they arent working as public parks. I also want to say that the prospect of making deals with the commercial or private sector may justifiably be viewed with wariness. But the lesson from history is that it was ever thus. The development of many, many of our great urban parks was tied up with commercial deals - usually residential development around them. There was never a golden age of pure and boundless philanthropy. And I do not see in principle an objection to developing an attraction or attractions in a park of this size: it needs a magnet, a focal point to act as a catalyst in transforming perceptions of Burgess Park. A metropolitan park is always a local park first One of the most telling points made earlier was that if Burgess Park is going to be a metropolitan-scale facility, it ought to have a metropolitan-scale budget. This is going to take time to assemble, but what we should be seeking now is leadership. The Mayor cannot do what his continental counterparts have done in Paris or Barcelona because of our system of governance and funding, but he could lead on the case for a major investment in Burgess Park as a facility for London. Similarly, the Government Office for London should share in that task given the potential role of the park in its vision of London South Central. If Burgess Park is going to be a metropolitan facility, it ought to have a metropolitan budget There is not only fiscal caution about the metropolitan tag; there is also a degree of alarm from local users that visitors from further afield will somehow usurp their park. I dont think this need be the case at all. A metropolitan park is always a local park first; for those lucky enough to live in the West End, the Royal Parks are local facilities. Parks are not spaces - with the neutral or negative connotations of that word - they are or should be places. It is desperately important to make Burgess Park a destination. Parks should be so much more than places to pass through on bike or by foot even healthy walking seems suspiciously utilitarian to me. Parks should be places to arrive, linger and enjoy. Parks should be places of pleasure. Parks should be places to arrive, linger and enjoy This is potentially a great time for Burgess Park. The Governments Urban Green Spaces Taskforce has recommended that 500 million be invested in parks and green spaces in a five year period. If that is to come, as most of it probably will, from the New Opportunities Fund the soonest it can be available is 2004. That gives Burgess Park a handy two years to focus its vision of the future and build the snowball of regional support for the park as a major asset to London. Now is the time and the message is onward and upward.

Speakers at the Burgess Park Conference This publication is based on speeches and workshop discussions at the Burgess Park 2002 conference. Speakers were: Ken Worpole member of the governments Urban Green Spaces task Force, whose report, Green Spaces, Special Places was published in May 2002. Tony Thompson Head of Strategic Planning at the Government Office for London. Clare Hennessey Senior Planner, Policy & Partnership Directorate, Greater London Authority. Nick Burton Parks Manager, Southwark Council David Lambert freelance consultant, policy adviser to the Garden History Society and author of Public Prospects: Historic urban parks under threat (1993).

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

Parks are for people. And if people arent using them, they arent working as public parks.

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

Burgess Park - a brief history


Burgess Park was created between the 1950s and the 1980s from land formerly occupied by houses, factories, schools, roads and a canal. Signs of its industrial and social heritage remain clear to the present day. Creating the open space took many years. The different sections of land were finally all linked together only in 1982, creating Burgess Park as we know it today. In 1985, the park passed from control of the Greater London Council to Southwark Council but lack of funds prevented any large scale renovation. In 1996, Groundwork Southwark and Southwark Council prepared a plan for the development of the park and sought funding from the Millennium Commission. Although the bid was unsuccessful, several aspects of the plan have since been carried out. In 2001, the Friends of Burgess Park was formed (replacing the former Burgess Park Committee) in order to create clear ways in which the local communities could influence the planning, design and development of the park. The Friends meet regularly with Groundwork Southwark and Southwark Council to plan the parks future. To find out more about Burgess Park and take part in discussion about its future call Groundwork Southwark on: 0207 7252 7666 or visit www.groundworksouthwark.org or www.burgesspark.org

Burgess Park: a new urban landscape for London

Burgess Park was created from land formerly occupied by houses, factories, schools, roads and a canal.

Suzanne Bosman

Contacts
Groundwork Southwark The Old Library 39 Wells Way London SE5 0PX Telephone: 020 7252 7666 Facsimile: 020 7252 6300 ndurston@groundworksouthwark.org www.groundworksouthwark.org
Charity number 1048169

Friends of Burgess Park c/o 30 Northfield House Peckham Park Road London SE15 6TL Telephone: 020 7639 9755 friendsofburgesspark1@btconnect.com

Southwark Council Parks Manager 15 Spa Road London SE16 3QW Telephone: 020 7525 5000

Designed & produced by Haime & Butler designers. Edited by Rodgers & Johns Publications. Original photography by Dave Lewis.