Until works began, Alfred Place was an ordinary, vehicle dominated back street parallel to Tottenham Court Road. Now renamed Alfred Place Gardens, it is Camden’s first new park in the area for 25 years.
The park is part of a major rethink of streets and spaces across the West End aimed at providing a better experience and a healthier environment. Just two hours of contact with nature per week reduces the risk of individual poor health by 45 per cent.
A meandering path lined with sculptural granite and timber seating makes Alfred Place Gardens a wonderful place to relax and the perfect lunchtime spot in a busy area that is short on quality shared spaces. Lounging lawns, a children’s play space and diverse and colourful planting add delight and all-year-round interest. Mature trees frame the space. The new landscape by LDA Design has been shaped through engagement with local residents, businesses and interest groups.
Alfred Place Gardens makes an important contribution to the West End Project, the biggest council-led public realm and transport scheme the borough has ever seen. It is addressing traffic congestion, road safety, poor air quality and limited access to open space and nature in this area, shown to be so important during the pandemic.
Tim South, project lead from LDA Design, commented: “It has been a privilege to turn this unremarkable West End street into an antidote to city life – a distinctive, nature-rich community space for local residents, workers, shoppers and visitors to enjoy and a welcome refuge from the bustle of Tottenham Court Road. We’re thrilled with the results and can’t wait to see people using it as a family play space, or to exercise, or to meet friends or to just take a moment. Everyone’s going to love it as the seasons change. We need more spaces like Alfred Place Gardens across our cities – and fast!”
The West End Project includes the rejuvenated Whitfield Gardens and the pocket parks at Capper Street, Huntley Street and Bedford Avenue, where road junctions have been turned into small green spaces for people to enjoy. More trees are being planted across the area and a brand-new public space at Princes Circus is still to come, as well as new pocket parks.
For every £1 invested in Camden’s green spaces, the Council reports a return of £11.58.
Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden said: “The opening of a totally new park in the midst of a bustling city centre is a cause for celebration. This is the first new park for this part of the borough in a quarter of a century, and we’ve achieved it here by rethinking the city and innovatively transforming road space into high quality green space.
“Through the West End Project, we are investing in new and improved green spaces, to support the health and wellbeing of local communities with places to meet, relax and play, the need for which has been starkly highlighted during the pandemic, as well as improving air quality, reducing flooding and supporting biodiversity.
“Local residents have long requested more public open space in the area and Alfred Place Gardens helps deliver this.”
For more information about the West End Project, please visit camden.gov.uk/westendproject
Lead image copyright Camden Council.