New accessible, green spaces are planned for two central Kingston locations to boost community wellbeing and support local businesses.
Colourful and biodiverse plants, better access and flexible seating are part of new designs for Kingston’s Eagle Brewery Wharf and Memorial Gardens.
Business improvement district (BID) Kingston First and Kingston Council are leading the initiative.
Kingston-based landscape architects Davies White Ltd and design studio The Edible Bus Stop, known for playful and sustainable projects, were appointed for the design and community engagement processes.
Kingston First marketing and communications executive Joelle Fry said the project would transform two prime locations that are currently ‘a bit unloved’.
Fry added that the ‘happy spaces’ are intended to broaden the town centre offer and provide areas for everyone to enjoy.
The initiative was dreamed up before COVID-19, as part of the ‘Reimagining Kingston Town Centre’s Streets and Spaces’ strategy, released in November 2019.
The strategy was developed collaboratively by the council, Kingston First, Kingston University and the Greater London Authority.
However, Fry said the proposed transformation has proved timely, offering more natural space, which she claims is what people want right now.
Kingston First runs business training and webinars and major local events.
The BID is holding its first-ever Kingston Wellbeing Week until 14 March, featuring virtual fitness sessions, financial advice and an embroidery class.
Kingston First chief executive Kirsten Henly said: “Wellbeing is more important than ever and we want to bring that feeling of happiness to the people who work, live and play in our town centre.
“These are two unique and significant spaces in Kingston which we hope, through shared conversations, will be transformed for everyone to enjoy whilst retaining their historical and community importance.”
Both spaces have previously attracted anti-social behaviour, despite their prominent riverside and town centre locations.
A mix of online and COVID safe in-person consultation events are planned as opportunities for residents, community groups and nearby businesses to have their say on how best to transform the spaces.
The first online public engagement event was held online on 1 March, with more event dates set to be announced for the next month.
The final design ideas will be exhibited online and physically in the spaces by the end of June, which will inform the project’s timeline.
A Davies White Ltd and The Edible Bus Stop spokesperson said: “The regeneration of these two town centre spaces offer lots of great opportunities to grow some happiness and encourage more people to spend time outdoors in Kingston when the Covid-19 restrictions are eventually relaxed.
“Each space has its own set of existing challenges and it’s our mission to turn these into opportunities.”
Featured image credit: Kingston First