The Building Conservation Directory 2024

106 THE BUILDING CONSERVATION DIRECTORY 2024 CATHEDRAL COMMUNICATIONS The bandstand and terracing at CADW-registered Belle Vue Park (1893), designed by Thomas H Mawson as his second public park commission (Photo: Paul Cottrell) Hedges, street trees and gardens contribute to the character of this conservation area in Cheltenham. (Photo: Jonathan Taylor) in-house experts increasingly took on the new commissions. This tradition continues into the 21st century: the world-status 2012 Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at Stratford was the brainchild of LDA Design, with Hargreaves Associates. Park layouts across the decades reflect shifts in design aesthetics from Victorian to arts and crafts and modernism, and these trends are reflected in the registered public parks on Historic England’s National Heritage List. The post-second world war registrations published in 2020 illustrated how the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Interest had been expanded to embrace more recent typologies such as the Kennedy Memorial at Runnymede (Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe), housing estates like the Brunel Estate in Westminster (Michael Brown), public parks like Campbell Park in Milton Keynes (Tony Southard, Andrew Mahaddie and Neil Higson), Alexandra Road Park in Camden (Janet Jacks) and Harlow Town Park (Frederick Gibberd and Sylvia Crowe). There are now some 300 public parks registered in England, but this is a fraction of the estimated 27,000 public parks across the UK, and undoubtedly more should be recognised. To be considered for registration, sites should be either good representative or early examples of a particular style or layout, or include listed features; alternatively, the park may be part of a wider group of heritage assets in an area. There is a vast research resource waiting to be tapped in the conservation management plans prepared for National Lottery funded restoration projects since 1995. As well as landscape design, many park buildings are also of note. Intended to serve the visitors’ needs, distinctive ‘parkitecture’ often includes entrance lodges, boundary gates and railings, cafes and toilets, playgrounds and paddling pools, bandstands, seating shelters, fountains and drinking fountains, and sports pavilions. Larger parks sometimes included conservatories, aviaries and zoos, or lidos. As places for civic pride, many have war memorials and statues of national and local heroes. Buildings and structures may well be listed or included on local heritage lists. Interesting parkitecture is likely to indicate that the historic landscape design is also of importance. GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE There are parallels in the histories of other green spaces and their designs. In developing the new cemeteries in the mid- to late-19th century, great care was taken with the landscape design and architecture to create not just resting places for the dead but places to visit for quiet relaxation and meditation. Over 100 historic cemeteries are now included on the NHLE, and like public parks, probably more should be added. Trees and green spaces are often key to the character of conservation areas as well. In Leicester, for example, the central avenue of trees and green spaces making up the New Walk Conservation Area (designated in April 1969) forms a kilometre-long linear park linking the city centre with the 1883 Nelson Mandela Park (formerly known as Victoria Park). Close by the historic Welford Road Cemetery is a local nature reserve. Indeed, if you look at the city council’s web mapping system, you can see how the registered parks and cemeteries, tree preservation orders and conservation areas link together with wildlife sites to create a network of green across the city. This ‘green infrastructure’ (GI) is defined in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as ‘a network of multifunctional green and blue spaces and other natural features, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental, economic, health and wellbeing benefits for nature, climate, local and wider communities, and prosperity.’ All local planning authorities in England must set out strategic policies for GI and it is woven throughout the government’s planning policies for climate change, for conserving and enhancing the natural environment, for dealing with ground conditions and pollution and for supporting healthy and safe communities. New development is expected to help improve green infrastructure, although too often the emphasis is on creating new features such as rain gardens and green roofs.