Wednesday 9th June, 2010

Croydon's green scene

Image courtsy John Bownas

London’s most populated borough is a leader in sustainability practices
 
Ken Livingstone was recently – and wrongly – dubbed ‘Grey Ken’ because of his announcement from Croydon that he would be running for Mayor.

However this all-too-common media portrayal of Croydon as a concrete desert is way off. In reality, the borough is the scene of a successful "councils going green" effort.

River Wandle

One of its favoured upcoming projects will uncover the River Wandle - currently blocked by concrete culverts. Croydon Council’s rejuvenation plans will not only reveal the long-hidden waterway but will also create a brand-new cycle route. Eight other green spaces are going to get attention after nearly 10,000 people took part in a public vote and approved £1.5 million of improvement efforts.

Doing Bloomin’ well
 
The council is particularly proud of several Bloomin' awards won over the last few years. They are last year’s champions of Britain in Bloom in the "Best Large City" category – beating Edinburgh into second place – and have also won silver for both Britain in Bloom and London in Bloom in previous years. They crushed the competition for the quality of their street scene, their floral planting flair and their focus on biodiversity. The competition rules bar them from this year's awards, but that will at least give other entrants a chance. 

The council's new vision puts sustainability at the heart of Croydon's regeneration agenda and teams from across the organisation are working together to achieve this. Their focus is on issues such as air quality, contaminated land, waste management, woodland maintenance, biodiversity and an increased use of parks.

A council spokesperson said: “We have 127 parks and open spaces that provide some of the best recreational facilities enjoyed by any borough in London. We are investing heavily in improvements to many of our parks and we think it’s important to listen to what people actually want so that our work meets genuine needs.”

Sustainable design

Aside from improving green spaces, high levels of compliance in construction projects means that new buildings in Croydon meet sustainable design requirements – including energy efficiency. In 2004 the council implemented the "Merton Rule" requiring renewable energy production on site for all commercial and residential development. Their commitment to environmentally friendly purchasing methods has earned the Council awards from the Mayor's office.

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