An historic site in the heart of Victoria, Christchurch Gardens was reopened to the public in September 2020 following extensive landscaping works.
The fascinating history of Christchurch Gardens dates back to the 13th Century. Once a burial ground for St Margaret’s, a chapel and then a church (Christ Church) stood on the site. Many notable people are buried here including Ignatius Sancho. The church was destroyed by bombing in World War Two and the site was opened as a public park in the 1950s. Owned by the Diocese of London Christchurch Gardens is leased to Westminster City Council.
In recent years it became clear that the site’s general condition and arrangement limited the degree to which people could benefit from this important area of greenspace in the heart of Victoria and biodiversity could benefit from it. Victoria BID embarked on a project to fully regenerate the site following other successfully delivered public realm projects such as the John Lewis Rain Garden and The Diamond Garden and in 2017 appointed ReardonSmith Landscape as landscape architect.
Several other disciplines were also involved in the project, such as soil specialists and lighting designers, and Victoria BID worked closely with Westminster City Council throughout. Local community input on the scheme was also sought and received, for example by way of a public consultation event
The design achieved the relevant consents and was adopted by Westminster City Council in 2019, who also allocated £2.5m to the project. Construction works began in January 2020. The scheme was built by FM Conway under WCC’s Highways Framework Contract and completed in September 2020.
The new scheme comprises more seating, a diverse planting palette (including species from the RHS Perfect for Pollinators list), new lawns, new trees, a history panel, new lighting columns, new paving (including a paving design reflecting the site’s history as a burial ground), bird and bat boxes, log piles, and an extensive jasmine climber wall.
Permeable paving and rainwater diffuser units will retain rainfall on-site as part of a sustainable drainage system (SuDS) approach. The scheme also incorporates a drinking water fountain to encourage water bottle reuse. All three memorials, erected on site in 1970, 1995, and 2013, were retained in the design.
Westminster City Council will continue to maintain the site and visitors will also see our area teams working in the site as part of their routine activity.
“The Christchurch Gardens project is another example of Victoria BID and Westminster City Council working together to enhance the public realm. Christchurch Gardens is now a welcoming area of green space for everyone to enjoy and its reopening comes at a time when access to high-quality greenspace is even more important because of COVID-19.”
Ruth Duston OBE, OC, Chief Executive, Victoria Business Improvement District
“The work that has been undertaken at Christchurch Gardens has completely transformed the atmosphere of the area. We want Westminster to be full of parks and spaces where people can relax and enjoy peaceful surroundings. These gardens provide that space and more with a painstakingly designed scheme paying tribute to the site’s unique heritage.”
Matthew Green, Cabinet Member for Business and Planning, Westminster City Council