“These improvements were made possible thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a team of talented and committed professional, specialists and contractors who did great work together to help deliver this ambitious project. This is now a fabulous park with something for everyone and a place where residents can spend a grand day out.”
Peter Craske, Member for Community, environment and leisure, London Borough of Bexley
The Lesnes Abbey Woods Enhancement Project is a £3.5million, project to regenerate an historic landscape, set around the now ruined Lesnes Abbey. The scheme is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Parks for People’ for London Borough of Bexley.
The client brief was to provide a new and engaging parkland setting to the Scheduled Ancient Monument Lesnes Abbey – a now-ruined Norman Monastery. In addition to the Abbey ruins, the 88 acre site is also home to one of London’s areas of rare heathland, and an ancient fossil bed, where remains of a pre-historic horse, birds and reptiles have been found.
Mei Loci collaborated with community groups and stakeholders to provide sustainable solutions to landscaping play and exercise areas, a bike track, interactive spaces such as the dipping ponds and areas of archaeological interest including the Chalk Pits and Monks Garden. The whole project is connected by educational and inspiring interpretation and way-finding sympathetic to this historical landscape.
The Abbey gardens, Monk’s Garden and the new Lodge, an education and community building, were developed as key spaces for community engagement. A series of learning, fitness and environmental trails were created incorporating outdoor learning spaces for the fossil beds and heathland, sculpture trails and interpretation, and enhancement of the recreation ground with new play spaces, parkour and bike pump track for children and young people. Metal, mosaic, stone and timber artworks across the site create interpretation signage, helping with site navigation and telling stories of the sites previous life.
The project programme was in line with the HLF rounds and RIBA stages. Mei Loci’s appointment began in February 2014, with a submission of the HLF Round 2 in August 2014. The project was broken down into three parts – the Lesnes Lodge design and construction phases, The Landscape Masterplan and delivery stages, and Interpretation design and delivery. Following a successful Round 2 bid, Mei Loci were appointed to deliver the technical design and delivery stages of the Landscape project and the Interpretation, signage and way finding package.
The combined Landscape and interpretation delivery budget was £1.4million. The project involved close liaison with Historic England, local community groups and stakeholders to develop a varied and valuable scheme which would enhance the park, engage users in its heritage and stories and create a sustainable future for the park.