Historic parks and gardens
Parks and open spaces play a vital role in the lives of Lambeth residents. The borough contains not only usable open space for sports and concerts, such as Clapham Common, but also more formal historic gardens such as Myatt's Fields.
Lambeth has eight landscapes included on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, a system designed to protect and enhance not only the historically important landscapes but also the amenity value that they offer and their importance in respect of nature conservation.
Since the 1980s, there has been a national register of the historic parks and gardens - the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England - which now contains nearly 1450 sites. The Register is maintained by English Heritage and is available to download on their Register web pages.
The decision on whether a park or garden merits registration is based on an assessment made by English Heritage as to whether it is of 'special historic interest'.
The majority of sites registered are, or started life as, the grounds of private houses; but public parks and cemeteries form important categories. The quality of the design, rather than the use of the site, is the primary concern: nationally, two pumping stations and hospital landscapes are even included, because they have skilfully-planned grounds reflecting the landscaping fashions of their day.
Registered sites might also be of note for other reasons, such as their amenity value, or for nature conservation. Although not relevant to an assessment of the site in terms of the register, such attributes need to be given consideration to ensure the sensitive management of the site.
What makes a park or garden of historic interest?
Whether or not a site merits national recognition through registration will depend primarily on the age of its main layout and features, its rarity as an example of historic landscape design, and the quality of the landscaping.
What makes a site of interest is the survival, quality, and interest of its historic structure.
- For a garden, the structure will usually include the basic pattern of its layout. This might be formal - with terraces, straight walks and hedges, formal pools and canals - or informal, with winding paths through lawns, rockwork, and informally-planted trees and shrubberies, for example.
- For a park it may include: the historic boundaries and entrances; the routes of the approach drives and rides; the siting of the main buildings; the underlying landform; built features which provide structure and focal points in the design; lakes and rivers; and the planting of parkland trees, clumps, shelter belts, and woodland.
Descriptions of the Lambeth parks and gardens included on the English Heritage register.
Parks and Gardens in council ownership are managed and maintained by Lambeth's Parks Department.
Policy 50 (e) of Lambeth's Unitary Development Plan (UDP) contains a policy commitment to the borough's historic parks and gardens.
Inclusion of a historic park or garden on the Register in itself brings no additional statutory controls. The council is required to make provision for the protection of the historic environment in their policies and their allocation of resources.
Inclusion on the Register is a material planning consideration – the council must take into account the historic interest of the site when determining whether or not to grant any planning or other applications.
Consultation and advice
English Heritage is consulted where an application affects a grade I or II* registered park or garden, and the Garden History Society is consulted on all applications affecting registered sites, regardless of the grade.
Proposed additions to the register
If you believe a particular park or garden be considered for inclusion on the register please contact English Heritage. It is helpful if the following is included in your request for English Heritage to consider a site for registration:
- Cover letter explaining the reason for the request and the urgency of the case.
- Details of the location of the site - either as its national grid reference or in relation to the nearest settlement(s) - and the local authority in which it lies.
- Owner's contact details (if known).
- A map clearly showing the site.
- A brief written statement explaining what features you consider make the park or garden of special historic interest in a national context.
- A brief description of the site as it is today, including mention of features within it of particular note.
- A set of current photographs of the site clearly labelled with the name of site and a one-line description of what each individual photograph shows.
- Supporting information:
Copies of any documents which provide immediately relevant details of the historic evolution of the park or garden.
References to any other known documents or sources of information on the history of the development of the site.
Early editions of the Ordnance Survey maps are particularly useful, as are any other historic maps such as early county maps, tithe maps, enclosure maps and estate surveys.
English Heritage normally gives priority to the assessment of sites threatened by immediate planning proposals, then to those where support for major grant-aid applications is sought.