Improve access to public open space WECH Garden

Westminster City Council are working with Walterton & Elgin Community Homes (WECH) to transform an underused outdoor space on the Elgin Estate into an active and welcoming public space, providing free fitness to everyone.

The Garden is identified as a 'quick win' meaning it will be an improvement that's visible, has immediate benefit and can be delivered quickly; acting as a catalyst for wider change in the Harrow Road area. It will open to the public in 2019.

The development of the project is presented here in reverse chronological order and organised into three sections:

DELIVERY provides updates as the project is realised on site

DESIGN sets out the project’s detailed design and engagement work

DEVELOPMENT describes the initial process undertaken by WCC and others to identify project opportunities and develop a design brief

WECH Garden has now received planning permission

OPTION2 VIEWC

February 2019 Planning Application Submitted

The plans for WECH Garden have now been submitted for planning approval.

This covers the creation of two new pedestrian entrances from Harrow Road, improvements to the Harrow Road frontage, the refurbishment of the sports facilities and new soft landscaping.

View the planning application

February 2019 LMCT Stage 2 Funding Application

WECH and WCC have submitted a Stage 2 funding application to the London Marathon Charitable Trust (LMCT) Grants programme to support the delivery of the WECH Garden.

The LMCT offer Major Grants of between £20,000 - £150,000 for projects that improve facilities in areas of London and Surrey to encourage and support all members of the local community to be physically active. The proposals outlined in the application can be viewed using the ink below.

Download LMCT Proposal

Final Scheme WECH 2

January 2019 Finalisation of design

A preferred design option has been developed. This responds to the consultation feedback from local users and provides the following:

BALLCOURT LAYOUT: A double court layout has been incorporated into the final scheme.

BALLCOURT MARKINGS: An engaging and welcoming graphic pattern that incorporates references from the WECH mural alongside sports court markings.

FITNESS EQUIPMENT: A variety of robust fitness equipment will be installed from ‘Training buddies’ that are designed to look like a fun personal trainer, animating the space and helping break down barriers to exercising, alongside more typical outdoor gym equipment

CHILDRENS' PLAY SPACE: Consultation highlighted the importance of not only allowing young mothers and families to comfortably and practically make use of the space, but also ensuring young children are encouraged to play outside.

HARROW ROAD FRONTAGE: The existing wall, piers and railings are replaced with new vertical bar railings to improve visibility across the space and assist with crime prevention.

 

November 2018 WECH Open Space Engagement Workshop

A public workshop was held on 24th November 2018. Residents, youth group representatives and local sports clubs were invited. As site constraints such as trees largely governed the spatial layout, conversation focused on the ball court layout, markings and patterning of the surface, style and type of fitness equipment, provision for younger children and the Harrow Road frontage.

The consultation boards and model photographs used as part of this workshop and the engagement findings can be viewed using the links below.

Download Worksheets  Download Findings

September - November 2018 Concept Design Review

Breeze Landscape Architects have been appointed to develop WCC’s initial concept design and prepare a detailed set of information that will allow the project to be delivered on site.

Breeze’s first task was to review and test the Garden concept, producing two options that considered the following:

  • Scale of space
  • Working with existing site levels
  • Site access and management
  • Achieving compliant accessibility
  • Multi-functional use of the space
  • Frontage to Harrow Road
  • Internal site fencing
  • Enhancing views of the mural

 

WECH Breeze Plans

Site constraints such as trees and ground levels largely dictate the location of paths, landscaping and exercise facilities. As such the options look at the relationship and balance between ‘sports’ provision and landscaping.

 

Option One

Proposes a clear distinction between the garden and sports areas. The northern side of the site is taken up by a ballcourt with a new ‘bench’ dividing the two zones, providing space for visitors to overlook both the landscaped and play spaces.

More traditional gym equipment is proposed alongside two smaller sports pitches aimed at ensuring higher usage by allowing more groups to participate rather than the space  being dominating by one age group.

WECH Breeze Plans2

Option Two

Softens this relationship, giving more prominence to the landscaped spaces and allowing them to seep into the ballcourt zone to provide a softer, less formal and more flexible area for play or exercise.

More interactive play and exercise equipment is proposed with items such as table tennis tables or climbing stones. Seating is focused around areas of planting and a dedicated ‘garden’ provides a greater focal point to the WECH mural.

 

 

WECH Breeze Plans3

Preferred Option

Following discussions with WCC and the WECH Board, it was decided that a preferred option should be developed, heavily based upon Option Two but drawing in the linear bench idea shown in Option One.

The ‘bench’ has evolved into a key organising element, linking all spaces and site entrances to provide a natural ‘terrace’ or set of bleacher style seats to overlook the play areas. The width of the bench is generous enough for it to feel equally part of the garden, allowing space for individual reflection and respite from the street and more active areas; a quality further reinforced by planters that interrupt the bench along its length.

WECH Breeze Plans4
WECH Site Final

This project is part of a concerted effort
to improve the health agenda across
the Harrow Road

May 2018 WCC Design Development

WCC have worked with WECH to develop an outline design for the garden that will realise the following objectives:

 

  • Allow public access to the Garden from the Harrow Road during daytime hours
  • Ensure access from the north and east of estate is for residents only
  • Provide a space that engages and supports more people to participate in exercise
  • Diversify activity along the Harrow Road to enhance the vitality of the Town Centre
  • Create a welcoming, safe and secure space that allows for individual reflection alongside gathering, play and leisure
  • Create a space that encourages use by and collaboration with residents, wider stakeholders and service providers
WECH Development

The design strategy…

 

1 - The Fitness Court

Existing ball court retained, becoming a usable extension of the green space

Outdoor gym facilities expand the fitness court with opportunities for circuit training

Local trainers can work from the space and share routines as part of a podcast or similar initiative

 

 

WECH Development2

2 - The Terrace

An active pocket accessed from Harrow Road and fronted by the WECH Mural

Opportunities for passive outdoor activity, a gathering space for individuals and groups

Ping Pong tables promote social interaction

 

WECH Development3

3 - The Green

Generous area of lawn retained with new planting providing respite from the busy road beyond

Sculptural edges provide informal seating areas and viewing points

Used for both special events and informal daily activities

WECH Development4

4 - The Garden

A quiet space, sheltered with  trees and plants and accessed from the Harrow Road

A place to pause or reflect

Opportunity for moveable chairs, power outlets for laptops or BBQ facilities

WECH Development5

5 - Concept Proposal

The drawing to the right is an illustration of the outline design. This work will provide the starting point for a future landscape consultant who will test and develop the assumptions made here and take the design of this project forwards.

 

 

WECH Development6
WECH Garden Importance

June 2018 The Projects Strategic Importance

As a 'quick-win' the WECH Garden will open in 2019, bringing local people valuable access to outdoor activity and social space.

However, the structure of the Place Plan also ensures it is part of a united programme of work that will encourage positive investment, vitality and change to strengthen the local community in the long-term. This map identifies complementary pipeline projects that are identified within the Place Plan:

WECH Garden Importance

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY - The successful delivery of the Garden will bring momentum to a network of wider opportunities.

HEALTH - The potential to create a community food growing programme on an underused space is being explored.

MARKET - This will create synergies with the Maida Hill Market Place which is to be revitalised.

WORK SPACE - Opportunities to deliver truly affordable workspace and business support to empower young entrepreneurs is being explored.

SOCIAL - The Garden will forge links with a brand new community centre being delivered as part of improvements to the WECH estate.

CULTURE - The Woodfield Road area is one of the most significant opportunity areas with important cultural assets that can become an integral part of the areas identity

LEISURE - A well-defined plan for Woodfield Road can open up pedestrian connections to assets such as the Canal.

LINKS - streets and walking routes between all of these spaces as well as schools, green spaces and residential areas frequented by young people, are safer and less congested.

Project Timeline

2017

An opportunity to address the Harrow
Road’s public open space deficit

 Bringing benefits to local health
and the economy

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