Central Park improvement project

Information on the improvement project at Central Park including key dates.

The first stage of an extensive project to improve Central Park is now in full swing.

Work started in November 2021 with the two-year project being carried out in four stages and the many improvements will make the park a more interesting green space for residents to visit and enjoy.

New play facilities for toddlers and children will be installed, as well as a refurbishment of the tennis courts and creation of approximately one mile of new pathways to make it easier to get around the park.

More trees and wildflowers will be planted to compliment the new-look of the 89-year-old park, which has remained largely untouched since it opened in 1932.

Historical Background

Created on land once part of Eastbrook Farm and in the vicinity of Becontree Heath, there is evidence on the site of prehistoric crop marks and Roman archaeology, and possibly a Roman villa. 

The 124-acre site was purchased by Dagenham Borough Council by Special Act of Parliament in 1928, and opened to the public in 1932, with facilities such as a putting green, miniature golf course, pavilion and tennis courts. 

The adjacent Art Deco Civic Centre (now Coventry University) designed by architect E. Barry Webber was opened in October 1937; the semi-circular Council Chamber at the rear looks out over Central Park.

A Coronation Avenue of Trees was planted on 22 October 1937. Extensive plans for the park, which included formal planting in the vicinity of the Civic Centre, were disrupted by World War II and never completed. 

In the 1940s Dagenham Borough Council appointed landscape architect Richard Sudell, FILA, as a consultant to plan parks and open spaces in Dagenham. His original plans for Central Park (November 1948) included a children’s play park, rose garden, old people’s corner, swimming hall and restaurant, cricket ground, open air theatre and mothers’ garden, the majority of which were not implemented. Similarly, a plan in the early 50s for an open-air roller-skating rink for children was not done. However, various facilities were added over the years, such as the Old People’s Garden, a children’s playground opened by the Mayor in March 1952 costing an estimated £3,255, and a new bowling green.

At the entrances at Wood Lane and Roding Road North the 1930s gates remain. 

Proposed Park and facility improvements

The borough’s parks are vitally important to general health and wellbeing of our residents and deliver wider environmental benefits. The value of our green spaces is recognised in the borough’s Parks and Open Spaces Strategy which was adopted in 2017. The strategy includes plans to improve key parks such as Central Park.

This proposal will help us achieve ambitious plans for this key park and residents, at the same time as benefiting from the income generated from the importation of environmentally approved clean (inert) soil. We will deliver new park facilities comprising of:

  • a toddler playground
  • an adventure playground zone
  • an ‘events amphitheatre’
  • improvements to the footpath network to provide improved access and remove barriers
  • significant native tree and wildflower planting

This work is being undertaken in partnership with Alliance Leisure Services and GLE Ltd.

Soil importation

We have partnered with Alliance Leisure Services and will get the majority of the project funded by income received from deliveries of environmentally approved clean (inert) soil.

As a result of this initiative, significant income will be generated from the importation of the soil, which will be a major boost to this project.

As part of the works, soil will be delivered to the park over the next two years. The income received will go towards creating new areas for landscaping, supporting biodiversity enhancements and infrastructure improvements (e.g. new path networks), and upgrading the leisure and recreation facilities.

These improvements will make Central Park a more interesting green space for residents to visit and enjoy.

Works Phasing Plan

Completing the Central Park improvement project will take approximately two years. Therefore, to minimise the impact on park users the soil importation work will be undertaking in four stages.

However, we apologise for any disruption or inconvenience caused to residents during the delivery of this major park improvement project.

Work started on site in November 2021 with site preparation works and the first deliveries of environmentally approved clean soil.

Phase 1

Projected Time Frame: 6 Months

Preparation Work: Oct/Nov 2021

Start Date: 22 Nov 2021

End Date: Late May 2022

Area Re Open Date: April 2023

Phase 2

Projected Time Frame: 2 Months

Preparation Work: April/May 2022

Start Date: May/June 2022

End Date: End July 2022

Area Re Open Date: April / May 2023

Phase 3

Projected Time Frame: 8 Months

Preparation Work: June/July 2022

Start Date: Aug 2022

End Date: March 2023

Area Re Open Date: June/Aug 2023

Phase 4

Projected Time Frame: 5 Months

Preparation Work: Feb/March 2023

Start Date: April 2023

End Date: Sept 2023

Area Re Open Date: April 2024

Note: The time frames quoted above are estimated and will be determined by the supply of imported soil, weather, and other factors which can change completion dates.

Tree Protection Plan

The development of a Tree Protection Plan (TPP) was completed early in the project planning stage. The TPP includes the following key elements:

  • a full tree survey in accordance with British Standard (BS 5837)
  • make suggestions to decrease the arboricultural impact of the proposed scheme on the retained trees during the design process
  • prepare a tree work schedule to British Standard (BS 3998); and
  • develop a tree protection strategy for the duration of the development including any demolition works

In accordance with the TPP a limited number (c.15 trees) of trees have been felled. However, a Soft Landscaping Plan is a key element of the project.

As part of the works a significant number of new trees (c.113 trees) in Central Park, plus associated wildflower planting.

So, there will be a net gain of c.98 new trees plus other and related biodiversity enhancements. This increase in tree canopy cover would not have been possible without the Central Park Master Plan scheme.

The project will make a positive contribution towards the Council’s commitment to double the borough’s tree canopy by 2040.