East End’s own royal’ Vicky Park gets �12m revamp for 2012

EAST London’s famous royal’ Vicky Park is getting a �12m makeover’ for the 2012 Olympics. The local authority has won National Lottery funding which is being topped up with �4.5m already put aside by the Town Hall

By Mike Brooke

EAST London's famous 'royal' Vicky Park is getting a �12 million 'makeover' in time for the 2012 Olympics.

The local authority has won National Lottery funding which is being topped up with �4-and-a-half million already put aside by the Town Hall.

The park gets �4.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, it was announced last Wednesday, topped up with �4.5m from Tower Hamlets Council.

The 'spending spree' beginning later this year brings Victoria Park up to scratch with ambitious plans following months of public consultations last year.

The plans were almost three years in the making, with 5,000 East Enders having their say on what they think their park should look like for the 21st century.

"Victoria Park is East London's 'royal' park," said Heritage committee chairman Wesley Kerr.

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"It's part of the biggest investment in our parks since Queen Victoria's time.

"Restored lakes, watercourses and monuments, improved horticulture and maintenance will ensure it is passed on to the next generation in prime condition."

The Heritage Lottery Fund committee described it as one of three 'serene spaces' in London which are special for the community and for London.

Plans include restoring the model boating lake and historical monuments, as well as an urban beach and skate park.

Tower Hamlets Council's culture director Stephen Halsey said: "Victoria Park will be restored to its iconic best before the Olympics to be displayed to the world."

Victoria Park was created and landscaped for the people of East London in 1841 by architect James Pennethorne after a petition of 30,000 signatures to Queen Victoria. It encapsulated Victorian splendour, with its grand entrances and wide promenades, while meeting the needs of the overcrowded population in an ever expanding East London with much needed open space.

It attracts around 7.5 million people a year and is home to the Lovebox music festival in the summer as well as hosting big names in music at one-off concerts including Madness and Radiohead.