Beckenham Place Park development

Beckenham Place ParkA 96 hectare, well wooded, park on the southern boundary of Lewisham Council, Beckenham Place was a country house and park for the Cator family in the eighteenth century. The house was built by Sir John Cator c. 1773 and is a simple rectangle, but with a later, clumsy addition of an oversized portico from another house, in a composite order. Comparison is made with the house at Danson Park, Welling by Sir Robert Taylor (1714–1788). Beckenham Place Mansion is grade II* listed.

The 96 ha park, was bought by the London County Council in 1927 having remained with the Cator family until the early twentieth century, and by then included an 18 hole golf course, established in 1907. The park passed to the Lewisham Council in 1972. Both the park and golf course are now managed by Glendale under contract from Lewisham (i).

The park slopes down to the banks of the River Ravensbourne on the eastern edge, but is divided in two by the Nunhead to Bromley railway built on embankment and running parallel to the river. There is one bridge connection between to the two parts of the park. Originally there was a long lake on the lower slopes, along a stream running into the Ravensbourne. The park east of the railway was until recently laid out as football pitches, but these appear out of use, in October 2015. There is woodland and the Capital Ring walk passes through the park.

In 2014 Lewisham Council announced a successful bid for Heritage Lottery funding of £4.9 million to restore the stableblock, and bring back the lake, as park-wide restoration works, gardens, visitor centres and recreational feature (ii). The council’s proposals include closure of the golf course. The mansion is subject to a separate Heritage Lottery bid. Additionally the Environment Agency are working on a flood storage scheme on the land east of the railway with LUC as consultants.

On a first visit in October 2015 the park was being well used by walkers and the golf course was similarly popular. Given the active and passive recreation works well here, and there is room for both why close the golf course? Currently a stay of execution of one year for the golf course has been granted until December 2016. The Friends of Beckenham Place Park are campaigning against the golf course closure (iv).

Many golfers up and down the country visit their local golf courses as often as they can. Whether that be to improve on their swing or their putting, or to relax with a group of friends and enjoy this time they have together. Closing the golf course could be devastating to some of these golfers. Even though they are able to play golf simulators indoors, which can provide them with a similar sort of experience, some people may find that it is just not the same as going to your local course in the sun to play. There will be many people who will be hoping that this golf course stays open.

Beckenham Place Park plan

Refs (all accessed 13.10.2015)







Robert Holden is a London-based landscape architect who read architecture & landscape architecture at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. On graduating he worked for the Dutch Staatsbosbeheer (State Forestry Service) on a visual survey of Oostelijk Flevoland and for Allain Provost in Paris on recreation planning of the French coastline east of Dunkerque. In London he has worked for Derek Lovejoys (1971-75) and Clouston (1976-89) including extensive work in the Middle East. • In the 1980s he was particularly known for his work on business park masterplanning such as Aztec West near Bristol, Capability Green Luton and Colchester Business Park. He was a Clouston director responsible for bureau d’étude work at EuroDisneyland in 1988-9; • since the 1990s he has been involved in smaller practices (including Clifton Design 1990-91 and Holden Liversedge 1991-99), and Cracknell Ferns (1999-2009). • projects have included work in France, Germany, Kuwait, Libya, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Spain, UAE, and Russia as well as the UK. • he was lecturer, latterly Head of Landscape & postgraduate landscape architecture programme leader at the University of Greenwich, 1992-2013. • Currently he serves on the Landscape Institute Council having previously served 1983-86; he was Education Vice President of the European Foundation for Landscape Architecture (2001-4) & from 2005-2008 was EFLA Secretary General. EFLA is now IFLA Europe. • From Feb.-June 2014 he undertook a Tübitak (Turkish Science Research Council) scholarship, at Istanbul Technical University, looking as sustainability & public domain in Istanbul. In 2015 he taught at Corvinus University on their MLA. Interests include sustainability & landscape architecture, post industrial landscapes, landscape construction, the European landscape profession, and aspects of C18th landscape gardening, especially the ferme ornée. HIs latest book (joint with Jamie Liversedge) is "Landscape Architecture as a Career": Laurence King (Feb. 2014) in English and Spanish.