This project transformed Croydon’s 123-year-old flagship urban park by bringing the River Wandle back into the light and restoring the park’s Victorian splendour. 

Rapid urbanisation in Croydon in the 1960s affected the water table, causing the boating lake’s water levels to drop and the River Wandle to be exposed to extreme flows after storm events causing flooding. Therefore in 1967 the lake was filled in and the river culverted and buried beneath playing fields. However, flood issues had returned as well a need to improve the park.

The masterplan recognised the importance of a regained river as a focus of the park. Over three years flood alleviation measures were integrated into a dynamic landscape of flowing landforms, the setting for the restored Victorian bandstand, new adventurous play landscape, skate park, café pavilion and community garden.

This scheme exemplifies not only a sensitive and successful river restoration for flood alleviation, but also a project which combined resources to regenerate this historic urban park to make it fit to serve a new growing population. 

“Preserving and improving London’s green spaces is vital to advance London’s position as the greatest big city on earth to live, work and invest in. This fantastic transformation of Wandle Park, with a multitude of new gardens and outdoor facilities, has also resurrected one of London’s lost rivers and returned it to the local community to enjoy.” Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Credits as supplied: 

Feasibility, Concept and Outline Masterplan: Croydon Council

Design Team Leader and Landscape Architect: LDA Design

Play space concept design:  Annabel Downs with Robinson Design

River and Structural Engineer: Royal Haskoning DHV

M&E/Sustainability Engineer:  Chris Evans Consulting

Project Manager/cost consultant: Croydon Council/ William H. Dick & Partners

Contractor: J. Breheny Contractors

Developer: London Borough of Croydon

Architect: Erect Architecture