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Vote for a Greater London National Park Centre

June 16, 2014

Many things have changed since June 2014. This old blog post on the Garden Bridge no longer reflects my views. Nor has it ever reflected the views or opinions of the London National Park City Initiative which evolved out of the previous Greater London National Park* intervention. You can find out more about the London National Park City here.

On a personal level, I do still think it’s important to develop ideas and practices to better protect, enhance, celebrate and promote London’s environment and outdoor heritage. A modest community and event space somewhere in central London could help many groups to come together and contribute to these shared goals. 

Daniel Raven-Ellison (August 2017) 

The RSA Northbank Good Business Challenge is looking for ideas to to make the Northbank business district of London (Trafalgar Sq, Strand/Embankment and Aldwych) a more vibrant, experimental area for sustainable living and business.

In response to the challenge I have posted an idea for a Greater London National Park Centre. Re-blogged from the Greater London National Park* website, this post describes the idea.

Please do take a moment to vote for the idea


The Garden Bridge is an exciting development for London. Conceived by Joanna Lumley and designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the £150 million footbridge will connect Southbank to Northbank across the River Thames and feature plants, trees, woodland and meandering walkways. The bridge will be a beautiful and iconic contribution to London’s landscape that millions of people will enjoy, but what will it mean to Londoners and visitors alike?

Image 5 - Bridge plan

The bridge does more than bring together two sides of a city split in half by a mighty river, it brings together London’s life and the built environment in a radical way. Earlier this week I attended the London Parks & Gardens Trust’s 20th anniversary symposium on London’s Green Future. At the event we heard from Arup’s Tom Armour, Director of Landscape Architecture, who described in detail how the bridge is being planned. Instead of designing the bridge first and then working out how to include the plants, they agreed the needs of the plants and designed the bridge for them.

garden2This kind of relationship between people, plants and bridge should be celebrated, but we should go further. The bridge should not simply be a new icon for London, it should become a symbol of a city that is building its relationship between people, wildlife and built environment in a radically new way.

The proposed northern side of the Garden Bridge ends (or starts) on the roof of Temple underground station. Temple is literally a stone’s throw away from the newly calculated geographic centre of London. This would make the perfect location for a Greater London National Park Centre, a visitor’s centre and hub in the centre of London.


The role of the Greater London National Park Centre would have a number of roles. For the public it would be a place to learn about the park and how to explore it. Promoting Greater London, the Centre would inspire and enable people to enjoy parks, woodlands, museums, footpaths and other opportunities in all of London’s boroughs. In doing so, the Centre will help to bring new people, business and opportunities to the edges of London. For those living and working in the Park, the Centre could act as a hub for developing, sharing and coordinating best and next practice.

Locally, the Greater London National Park Centre could help to reshape how people enjoy the Northbank. While visitors spend hours navigating through and chilling out on Southbank, Northbank is currently more a space to pass through than a place to savour. A network of trails marked by flagstones could connect the Centre to Northbanks’s gardens, cultural sites and destinations.


As it stands the Garden Bridge will be an incredible and beautiful icon for London, but if it were at the centre of a Greater London National Park it would become an inspirational symbol of and a gateway to a much greater London. The plan is for the Garden Bridge to open in 2018, let’s open the Greater London National Park then too.

If you like the idea of a Greater London National Park Centre you can vote for it on the RSA Premiums and Northbank Business Improvement District’s Good Business Challenge. 

Read more about Why Greater London should be made into an urban national park on the Guardian. You can sign a the petition for the creation of the Greater London National Park here.  



One Comment leave one →
  1. December 16, 2014 04:44

    Essays like this are so important to brndeaoing people’s horizons.

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