Restoration of the Commons underway after lockdown damage
Works to restore the Commons after severe damage was caused to the green spaces during the Covid lockdown are now underway – to protect and conserve the popular sites.
Whilst the green gems provided a lifeline to many during the pandemic, the huge increase of visitors left the open spaces severely damaged - with widened paths, erosion, trampled grass, soil compaction and disturbed habitats. The wet weather over winter heightened the problems and worsened the damage.
The Commons are owned and managed by the City of London Corporation, and include - Ashtead Common, Farthing Downs, Kenley Common, Riddlesdown, Coulsdon Common, West Wickham Common and Spring Park, all located on the borders of South London, Croydon and Surrey.
As guardians of the Commons, the City of London Corporation is going above and beyond to protect and conserve the open space for future generations by putting a huge focus on the restoration of the land to ensure the damages do not become permanent.
It has now commenced the first phase of ground restoration work, with results already in place. This has included fencing installed to protect veteran trees and reseeded areas of grassland. Work is being done to protect path edges and to encourage natural regeneration, also presenting opportunities to increase the biodiversity. New signage is also being put up to indicate to users where the paths are.
Chair of the City of London Corporation’s City Commons Committee, Graeme Doshi-Smith, said:
““It was very positive to see so many people using their local park or green spaces whilst socialising indoors was not permitted. However, this brought a series of challenges for the Commons, and resulted in some significant damage.
“The good news is that work has already begun to ensure the landscape will recover, but it may take some time and will require carefully planned interventions.
“Visitor numbers are much lower than the previous months during lockdown, which will help with the restoration work.
“These proactive efforts have meant that we can already see positive changes. We all need work together to preserve these green spaces and that’s what we will do as guardians of the Commons.”
The Commons are registered charitable trusts, with the City of London Corporation as the main funder and trustee. The Commons are a valued collective of open spaces including Sites of Special Scientific Interest and historic landscapes, with scheduled monuments and other important features. The Commons cover around 1,000 hectares.
The City Corporation protects 11,000 acres of green space in London and south east England – including Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches - and over 200 smaller ones in the Square Mile, investing more than £40m a year.
These sites, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve. They include important wildlife habitats, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.
Kristina Drake| Media Officer, Public Services
City of London Corporation
D: 020 7332 1125
Notes to editors
About the City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk