The new Jubilee Gardens on London’s South Bank opens on time for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Weekend
By: Steve Ott
The flowerbeds have been planted, new grass turf and granite paths laid and the transformation of Jubilee Gardens on London’s South Bank into a new green landmark for London is finally complete, on budget, with the Gardens re-opening on Thursday 31 May, in time for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
At the same time, responsibility for the Gardens, part of the Southbank Centre site, will be transferred on a long lease to the Jubilee Gardens Trust, a registered charity comprising representatives of neighbouring landowners, local businesses, and community organisations. The Gardens were first created in 1977 to celebrate The Queen’s Silver Jubilee, and it is particularly fitting that 35 years on, the new Jubilee Gardens will open to the public in the landmark year 2012, for the Diamond Jubilee, after a £5m transformation. The South Bank will be an important viewing point for this weekend’s Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant and the new Gardens will become one of the most visited green spaces in the country, appreciated not just by the millions who visit the South Bank, but also local employees and residents.
The re-landscaping of Jubilee Gardens transforms what was a flat and featureless patch of grass into a lush, green landscape of the highest quality. The brief was to create a space which would be as soft and green as is sustainable, and the outcome is a wonderful new landscaped area, worthy of its Royal Jubilee associations and reflecting the quality of the South Bank’s cultural organisations, tourist attractions and high profile businesses.
The re-developed Gardens were designed by Dutch landscape architects West 8 and constructed by Frosts Landscape Construction Ltd. Frosts overcame a number of logistical challenges to deliver this high quality scheme including the removal of thousands of tonnes of reinforced concrete to provide a sustainable environment for the new soft landscape.
Jubilee Gardens includes many appealing new features. 10,700m2 of high quality turf has been laid, and flowerbeds of the highest quality have been planted with Geraniums. Lilies will be planted in summer and Asters in October. There are elegant granite edges, formed from 1,169 granite pieces, providing extensive seating alongside a generous new granite path network. 27 lighting columns have been installed, together with a brand new playground including a ‘timber tangle’, ‘jungle arena’, ‘spider web’ and a flock of wooden sheep. In addition, the International Brigades Memorial, a tribute to British volunteers serving with republican forces in the Spanish Civil War, has been restored and re-located in a more accessible position, with adjacent seating areas.
69 mature new trees have been planted including English and Pin Oaks, Common Beeches, Red Beeches, Sweetgums, Bald Cypresses and Small Leaved Limes. Particularly elegant examples of the Common Beech may earn the name ‘Queen Beech’, which befits the Royal associations of the Gardens.
The transformation of Jubilee Gardens has been made possible by the partnership of neighbouring landowners, local business and community organisations, who now make up the Jubilee Gardens Trust. The construction contract was let by Lambeth Council and overseen by the Jubilee Gardens Project Board comprising Lambeth Council, Southbank Centre, the Jubilee Gardens Trust and Transport for London. The contract was jointly managed by South Bank Employers’ Group and the Council.
The £5m project was funded with contributions from Shell and the EDF Energy London Eye, secured under planning agreements with Lambeth Council, as well as £1.5m from the Mayor of London (via Transport for London) and contributions from several charitable trusts. The new Jubilee Gardens has been supported by Kate Hoey, MP for Vauxhall, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Shirayama Corporation, owner of the adjacent County Hall.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London said:
“The reinvigoration of this stretch of grassland into a welcoming oasis for visitors and Londoners is simply superb. It not only makes this part of the capital an even more pleasant place to work and live but also more attractive to business looking to locate in the capital.”
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