Urban green space
In London we only have half the green and park space we need for a population of our size. But Camden Council’s West End Project is helping to address that. Sophie Thompson reports on the transformation to streets around Tottenham Court Road.
Until works began, Alfred Place was a typical, central London back street, more car park than anything else. Now renamed Alfred Place Gardens, it is an antidote to city life and London Borough of Camden’s first new park in the area for 25 years.
The Gardens, which are a stone’s throw from Tottenham Court Road, have just opened, and the response has been terrific.
It has been a joy seeing people start to grow into the space – children climbing, students lounging on the sculptural seating to read in the sunshine, workers taking a break. Right now, there’s a line of blossoming Amelanchier trees, and soon the cherry and herbaceous perennials will come into flower.
Green space, health and wellbeing
We need more spaces like Alfred Place, softening our cities and making them calmer, greener, healthier and more enjoyable. A meandering path lined with sculptural granite and timber seating makes Alfred Place Gardens the perfect lunchtime spot in a busy area lacking quality shared spaces.
In this compact design, there are lounging lawns, pop-up power for events and children’s play spaces too.
Alfred Place is part of a major rethink of streets and spaces across Camden’s West End. It is part of the West End Project, a £35m council-led public realm and transport scheme, and a fantastic team effort.
Designed by LDA Design with Michael Grubb Studio for lighting, contract managed by NRP, engineered by Arcadis, and built beautifully by ID Verde, the scheme addresses:
- traffic congestion
- road safety
- poor air quality and
- limited access to open space and nature in the area, shown to be so important during the pandemic.
Pocket parks greening central London
Come away from Alfred Place and there are already three new pocket parks in the area. Cross Tottenham Court Road and you’ll find Whitfield Gardens, once dark, overgrown, and inhospitable and now open and inviting with movable seating, a long dining table and lighting that makes it feel like London’s living room.
And there’s more to come.
Two more pocket parks are imminent, with construction due to start this spring to create a brand-new public space at Princes Circus. Located between High Holborn and New Oxford Street, it will look and feel radically different as we continue to claim road back for people and for nature.