Mayesbrook Park now boasts a restored river, more trees in an urban woodland, better footpaths, improved signage and a new play area with zip ropes and climbing nets.
The £1m project was joint funded by public and private money, including £400,000 from the Mayor of London Boris Johnson's Help a London Park scheme, and £300,000 from global insurance company RSA.
Not only will the park provide better facilities for people right now, the improvement works will help the park cope better as the weather changes in coming years. The Mayes Brook river, which runs through the park, has been taken out of its concrete channel and redirected through a new one hectare flood plain, providing additional protection against flooding. The new river course is more natural and attractive and, along with the new tree planting, provides better habitats for wildlife.
Local people have been closely involved in the design of the improvements and in deciding how the money was spent. More than 5,000 people voted for Mayesbrook as part of the Mayor of London’s Help a London Park vote in 2009.
The project has been made possible thanks to an innovative public / private partnership between the owners of the park London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, RSA, the Mayor of London, Thames Rivers Restoration Trust, the Environment Agency, Natural England , London Wildlife Trust, the SITA Trust and Design For London.
Cllr Bert Collins, Cabinet Member for Culture and Sport, Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “This is a groundbreaking park which has been designed to help address some of the challenges of a changing climate. It is also a very beautiful park with excellent new facilities. The most important thing is that local people come down, see it for themselves, and enjoy what Mayesbrook Park has to offer.”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "I am passionate about London's green spaces and want to protect these precious areas at the heart of our communities. By upgrading places such as Mayesbrook Park, we make our city a better place to live as well as creating jobs and driving economic growth. RSA's generous commitment to this project demonstrates that private companies understand the benefits of doing so.
"The transformation of Mayesbrook Park has created a raft of new facilities and improved landscaping for local people to enjoy. This is part of my Help a London Park programme in which over 100,000 Londoners voted to decide which of their ten favourite parks would have their money spent on."
Simon Lee, RSA Group Chief Executive, said: "Severe weather events can have a devastating impact on our customers, their businesses and their homes. As a leading insurer, we are always looking for new ways to protect our customers and manage the everyday risks they face. We're pleased to be involved in helping to develop Mayesbrook Park, which we hope will not only benefit local residents but will provide an innovative approach to managing climate change."
Robert Oates, Executive Director of Thames Rivers Restoration Trust said: “Mayesbrook has shown how public and private organisations can pool their resources and make big improvements for people and wildlife even in these tough financial times."
Carlo Laurenzi OBE, CEO London Wildlife Trust, said: “This is a wonderful example of a successful environmental partnership project, that will not only help wildlife, but also bring many thousands of people closer to nature. Let’s hope this is just the first of many similar projects that also helps highlight the need to prepare ourselves for an unpredictable climate.”
Notes for editors
In a separate project in the northern part of Mayesbrook Park, a new handball centre is being built as an Olympic Games Time Training Venue, opening in time for the Games.
The Academy Central development http://www.academycentralbarking.com/about/ in Longbridge Road, Barking, is incorporating green roofs, and sustainable urban drainage which will also be integrated with the flood management improvements in Mayesbrook Park
A second phase of the Mayesbrook Climate change project, dependant on further funding, will see a new visitor centre, café and a climate change garden with plants suited to changing climate. The park’s two lakes will also be restored to further enhance flood management and help wildlife.
Mayesbrook Park is one of three groundbreaking park improvements projects that have taken place in Barking and Dagenham, the others being the award-winning Beam Parklands project and the Heritage Lottery funded Barking Park renovation.