We’re excited to publish the Ruskin Park Strategic Masterplan. This ambitious plan offers a clear and coherent vision for possible future development of the park. Here we outline the key principles of the plan, and how and why it was developed. We’ll also discuss how we’re planning to share the plan and what happens next.

Download the masterplan (pdf)

The masterplan’s important role

Other parks have found a strategic masterplan provides a useful guiding framework for the future. A masterplan can help build consensus from the community and get resources for specific park improvements.

It’s important to note that the masterplan is not a fixed document with all the details for implementation. Instead it provides a series of guidelines that any future park development should try to adhere to. Illustrations are provided to bring the document to life.  It makes recommendations for key improvements, based on three guiding principles.

Ruskin Park has its own character with many existing natural assets. The plan aims to protect these and show that the park’s natural beauty and its facilities can be enhanced.

The park also has a vibrant community, from toddlers enjoying the paddling pool, to footballers training on Saturday mornings, to others taking romantic strolls or walking the dog. The plan will guide the park toward becoming an even greater resource for the health and wellbeing of the whole community.

Why it’s time to invest in the park

The pandemic has sparked more interest in parks everywhere, including many local people who have rediscovered the wellbeing benefits of living near Ruskin Park.

This isn’t surprising, because the first public parks were created in the nineteenth century to boost public health. According to research from Fields in Trust, the UK’s parks and greenspaces deliver £34 billion in health and wellbeing benefits each year. So while councils budgets are under more pressure than ever, there is a strong argument that parks should be a bigger priority.

Key points

The masterplan is structured around three principles. Each outlines both gradual improvements and bigger projects that would need more investment. The design approach adopted by architects Campbell Cadey is “clean, simple and timeless”.

1. Enhance and maintain

Although there has been progress recently, park maintenance must be improved. This’ll be easier with clear planting schemes and regular pruning. There should also be a simple materials palette, including for paths where considerable repairs are needed.

2. Legible, accessible and safe

The park should be welcoming and inclusive. The masterplan includes a clear and consistent approach to signage, and longer term improvements to key entrances. Once in the park, there should be more seating and fewer internal gates and fences.

3. Engaging and joyful

We need a range of features and facilities to help people get the most from the park. As funding becomes available over time, the park could see changes such as refurbished sports facilities, a bigger and better playground and a new café and green space in place of the current depot.

We also need to protect existing features, such as the bandstand as a hub for community events, and restore neglected assets such as the former stable block.

Smaller enhancements can also be exciting and impactful. This could include features such as logs and stepping stones for informal play, a heritage trail to help people explore the park, and wildflower areas to further increase biodiversity.

Making it happen

The masterplan is only useful if ultimately, it makes a difference.

Since we began as a community group in 1996, our charity, the Friends of Ruskin Park, has been raising money to maintain and improve the park.

We volunteer to help improve the park now, for everyone to enjoy and to preserve it for future generations. Now, the masterplan will help guide our fundraising and activities.

We know that Lambeth Council does not have ready money to fund a large number of improvements quickly, but there is a strong case to be made for the value of our park.

We’ll work with the council and the community to set priorities. We’ll work to find, and make, opportunities for the identified improvements to become projects, get funding and be implemented. Some will need more consultation, for example by involving parents in the design of an upgraded and expanded playground. Larger projects will be subject to planning permission including public consultation.

Where we can, we are already making progress, with projects such as the outdoor gym and improvements to the wildlife garden. And we need your help – we will be running a fundraising campaign shortly to replace recently lost trees and plant flowers to add interest and biodiversity.

How the masterplan was created

Lambeth Council and Friends of Ruskin Park have been working on this with the expertise of local architects, Campbell Cadey, since early 2018.

We’re really grateful to the park users and Friends of Ruskin Park members who contributed their thoughts and ideas along the way, including at last year’s Summer Fete.

Sharing the plan

We hope you like the masterplan and will continue to feed in your thoughts and comments. We know the plan covers a lot of ground, so after the discussion at our Annual General Meeting we had hoped to hold an event in April 2020 for our members and other park users to ask questions and discuss the plan.

The event was cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown. Over lockdown, it’s become more clear than ever how important Ruskin Park, as a beautiful green space, is for the health and wellbeing of our local community.

With that in mind, we’re keen to meet with the park community to discuss the masterplan, online or as social distancing allows. Watch this space – and please continue to support our efforts to drive park improvements over the coming months and years.