Re-designing ‘Ginkgo Corner’ in Chiswick

Image: Artist’s impression of Ginkgo Corner

Transforming the raised bed opposite the old police station

Guest blog by Dr Karen Liebreich

Plans are being unveiled for the transformation of the crumbling raised bed that lies opposite the old police station building. Seating, along with improved and extended planting will make the area into a welcoming, beautiful and accessible space.

As well as updating the infrastructure, replacing collapsing brick walls and improving drainage by increased greenery, the planting will improve biodiversity and visual appeal, and improve the centre of Chiswick, an area that has been in great need of a radical refurbishment.

Funding has been secured from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (part of the Levelling Up agenda), with additional substantial funding provided by the Chiswick Flower Market, which is also leading on the project.

Landscape architect is Luke Greysmith, who comes to the project with a stellar background as a lead designer for the Eden Project and several other street transformations.

The project reflects the feedback received from the 2023 Flower Market Co-Design Survey,  and also meets the objectives of the Flower Market (run pro bono by local residents), which was set up to reinvest its surpluses into regenerating the High Road.

It is a standalone project, but could form part of the wider redesign of Old Market Place, should this go ahead. Subject to consultation, the work could begin as soon as possible.

Image: Current view of Ginkgo Corner

Landscape Architect Luke Greysmith

In 2022 Luke Greysmith was invited to create initial designs for the whole of the Old Market Place area, then to integrate the 400+ public responses from the Co-Design Survey and to provide realistic proposals, taking into account underground services and other constraints.

READ ALSO: Chiswick Flower Market organisers present plans to improve ‘Old Market Place’

Luke is a Chartered Landscape Architect with 30 years of professional experience. He has previously worked on a wide range of projects, varying in scale, complexity, and location, from large-scale developments to small-scale private projects. He was a key designer for the iconic Eden Project from its inception, and is still working on ongoing projects for them.

He then worked on the West Thames College campus redevelopment, a £52 million campus masterplan. Its position within a Conservation Area added an additional layer of complexity.

In 2014 Luke transformed Derbyshire Street in Bethnal Green, in a groundbreaking project that transformed a dead-end street into a vibrant pocket park, incorporating sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS), seating areas, green roofs, rain gardens, and space for cafe seating.

It is now considered an exemplar of street-greening schemes and a good example of what could be achieved in Chiswick. The project was recognized by the Landscape Institute, winning an award for “Design for a Small Scale Development.”

As a landscape architect with vision and experience (as well as patience!) the project is lucky to have found him.

Image: Derbyshire Street, designed by Luke Greysmith

Ginkgo Corner background

What I am describing as ‘Ginkgo Corner’ is the raised bed on the corner of Linden Gardens and Old Market Place, opposite the old police station. It is currently an unsightly and weed-infested bed with crumbling walls that visitors perch on, with a magnificent ginkgo tree in the centre and a few etiolated cordylines.

In November 2023 funding was offered by UKSPF to the various Hounslow Town Centres for greening, on condition that it be deployed within a few months. It was decided by Hounslow Council, in conjunction with the Flower Market, to develop the proposals for Ginkgo Corner urgently to take advantage of this funding for Chiswick.

Image: People in Old Market Place who might prefer to sit on a bench

The gingko tree would of course be prioritised with its roots protected. The greenery would be extended to create a small parklet, with a high quality planting scheme. A well designed bench, similar to those installed at Turnham Green Terrace piazza, would be inserted into the midst of the greenery, and protected from the High Road traffic.

A path would be built to permit elderly, disabled and buggies to access the area. In order to make the path accessible for these vulnerable groups, one parking bay will need to be removed.

Image: Artist’s impression of Ginkgo Corner

This area had historically contained a small garden, protected with railings, that formed an end point to the market place area. By re-establishing and enhancing this corner, we would re-emphasise the traditional uses of the area, while re-purposing the parklet for public enjoyment and seating, pollinator-friendly planting, rainwater capture and aesthetic appeal.

Image: Postcard, 1905, showing open area and fenced green space

By 1952, as the area was transformed into a municipal car park, the flower bed was still retained, but the infrastructure (the walls, the planting, the existing bench alongside the pavement) became degraded through the decades.

The entrance to the market place is now compromised and cluttered, as pedestrians entering from the High Road are forced to negotiate a motorcycle bay invariably filled with courier riders, then the road with exiting cars, before walking behind the bike racks and parked cars to access the pavement.

The ginkgo tree is a beautiful specimen hidden behind and infringed on by the cordylines which offer no environmental benefit (though some minimal architectural interest in winter).

This proposal will provide a fitting entrance to the market place, an attractive and much needed seating area and a well-planted feature garden. Whether or not the rest of the improvements suggested for Old Market Place take place, this proposal will enhance the centre of Chiswick.

Dr Karen Liebreich is one of the directors of the Chiswick Flower Market.

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