HTA’s landscape team worked across multiple phases of Berkeley Homes’ Kidbrooke Village, delivering around 5000 new homes from planning to delivery on site, including the redesign of the 8ha Cator Park in collaboration with the London Wildlife Trust.
The landscape led vision for Cator Park and the wider Kidbrooke Village proposed a mosaic of varied habitat, topography and biophilic spaces including lakes, WSUD wetlands, meadows, open amenity and wild spaces.
Drawing upon the history of a lost river that crossed the site and from where the village takes its name, the Lower Kid Brooke, a new chalk stream creates a palimpsest of the ancient waterway as a dry chalk stream winding its way from the north to the south of the park.
The chalk stream forms the backbone of the landscape approach, connecting the existing water bodies with a dry riverbed, acting as a path and inviting the public to discover and interact with the natural environment. At the source of the chalk stream is a 3,000m3 wild play space creating a biophilic experience for ages 0 to 100.
Limestone outcrops and climbing walls enclose the space and bespoke natural play towers create a dramatic focus the space, materials used in the construction have been repurposed and upcycled from standing deadwood trees, air preserved and reused as climbing frames to greenheart groynes pulled out redundant Thames jetties to be used as climbing walls and benches.
How has this project or intervention contributed to the urban life of this place?
The vision returns nature to the city and challenges the perception that urban brownfield development cannot contribute to the wider ecological and biodiversity network whilst creating successful spaces for the community. This new park at the centre of the development will offer a legacy for the local community & London that will bring people together and form a sense of identity.
At Kidbrooke Village we recycled 30,000m3 of site materials that would otherwise have otherwise gone to landfill. We used this to create dramatic topography in the park that encourages play healthy lifestyles and also allows for a wider range of habitat types, chalk grasslands on south facing slopes and shady woodland glades on the north. This inspired move saves significant resource, reduces offset environmental impact, delivers positive health benefits and creates a rich network of varied habitat types.
Local children have designed a ‘stepping stone’ trail made from cast iron from clay reliefs they created with the design team. Play trails, sculptures and structures to jump, swing and hang from have all been incorporated throughout the space. For older children, there is also a new multi-use games area where they can practice sports like football, tennis, basketball and netball.
We produced two illustrative signs displaying the ecological and biodiversity networks and the History of the area. We also designed an educational poster for children with activities to learn about the habitat and the history of their neighbourhood.
What do you see as the greatest success of this project?
Good development is all about people. It’s about making life better, creating beautiful homes and putting the wellbeing of the whole community at the heart of the plan. It’s about creating places people will love as their own and care for long after we’ve all gone. Cator Park transforms an existing underused parkland into a biodiverse park for people and wildlife, supporting the network of Green Infrastructure beyond the site boundaries, offering social places for the local community to grow.
Working with the London Wildlife Trust, the Kidbrooke Village development boosted biodiversity on the site by 200%. Berkeley Homes carried out a resident survey and found 80% said they appreciate how much green spaces there are. For families, these spaces are important in providing opportunities to bond with their children and socialise with other families.
Biodiversity has a big role in creating healthy, vibrant neighbourhoods for future generations. Designing and implementing biodiversity net gain goes hand in hand with delivering a climate- change resilient development and in London will typically include habitat creation, diverse naturalistic planting, biodiverse sustainable urban drainage systems and green roofs, and wildlife features such as swift bricks and bee hotels. Not only has nature returned but the parkland transformation has received an overwhelmingly positive response from local residents. London Wildlife Trust have helped kids discover the natural beauty on their doorsteps.
We hope that their work and the biodiversity in the park not only contributes to the health and wellbeing of children but that it also encourages future generations to nurture and protect this special place.
What the judges said
The judges were inspired by the inclusivity of the park, which catered to all ages, as well as the variety of its spaces catering to different tastes, and remarked on the park’s gift to the wider community