The case for investing in the park 

Ruskin Park has its own character with many existing natural assets. The park also has many vibrant communities, from toddlers enjoying the paddling pool, to footballers training on Saturday mornings, to others taking romantic strolls or walking the dog and many other activities.

However, the park is under increasing pressure from climate change, new tree diseases and increased use.

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.

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.

Our aim is to protect the park’s character and to show that the park’s natural beauty and its facilities can be maintained and enhanced.

We volunteer to help improve the park now, for everyone to enjoy and to preserve it for future generations.

An evolving strategic plan

Other parks have found a strategic plan provides a useful guiding framework for the future. Often called a masterplan, it can help build coherence among different needs in the community that can be met in the changing  physical environment of the park. This gives a base to make the case for specific park improvements and get resources for these from wherever we can. 

As things change over time, the plan will evolve to take into account new ideas and emerging priorities. 

Friends of Ruskin Park are continuously working in partnership with Lambeth Parks to make desired investment and improvements happen.

How a masterplan was created

Lambeth Council and Friends of Ruskin Park worked with local architects Campbell Cadey during 2018 and 2019. The resulting plan was published in early 2020, just before the first lockdown. 

We’re really grateful to the park users and Friends of Ruskin Park members who contributed their thoughts and ideas along the way.

It is important to note that the masterplan is not a fixed document with all the details for implementation. Instead it provides a series of guiding principles for any future park development. As ideas continually evolve and adapt, or new strategic drivers emerge, some of its 2020 intentions may no longer be appropriate at the current time, and may need further thought and discussion.

Key points of the masterplan

Download the masterplan (pdf)

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.

Continuing the dialogue – current priorities and projects

We’ll continue to work with the council and the community to set priorities. We’ll seek opportunities for the identified improvements to become funded projects to 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.

We will also be developing an ecological management plan to help make the park resilient to change and enhance biodiversity whilst meeting everyone’s needs.

Recent achievements have been projects such as the outdoor gym and improvements to the wildlife garden.

The pandemic has curtailed our intentions for discussing the masterplan and ongoing discussion. We’re keen to engage with the park community as soon as we are able, 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.