Paddington Basin gets a floating park

February 2017 - Peter Underwood reports on the latest plans for Paddington Basin

Anyone who hoped to see the far end of Paddington Basin – closed off for several years by a 'fan' bridge – opened up for mooring after a floating market was held there last year is to be disappointed.

Instead the property developers who own the basin are planning what they describe as London’s first floating public “pocket park”, which will open this Spring after getting the green light from Westminster council planners.

The 45m-long green floating platform will be created at the darkest and coldest end of Paddington Basin and will be open year-round until dusk.

Landscaper and former Royal Horticultural Society Young Garden Designer of the Year Tony Woods, is heading the project, and is reported as saying his biggest challenge had been ensuring structural stability of the platform when weighed down by the soil and up to 150 people.

It has been built from a series of interlocking pontoons made from recycled materials decorated look like reclaimed wood. They are being put together in Cumbria and will be brought to Uxbridge by road. They will then be put on boats to be carried by canal to Paddington in time for a May opening as part of the Chelsea Fringe.

Mr Woods claims that even on a windy day the park should be stable enough not to be rocked by any waves though the basin can produce noticeable movement for boats moored there. “People shouldn’t feel any significant movement,” he said.

The pocket park is to be divided into three areas - an events and installations venue with a pergola, a birds only floating reserve for wildfowl and a main area with lawns, Tibetan cherry trees, flower borders for flowers as well as seating and walkways over the water.

Apparently visitors will be permitted to dangle their feet in the canal water.

The garden will have free wifi access throughout and there will be at least one boat as a mooring for boat-based traders selling coffee or food, is on the plans.

Westminster council’s deputy leader Robert Davis is quoted in the Evening Standard: “The council welcomes this ingenious reinvention of the waterway, which gives this part of the Grand Union a new purpose.”

The park has been funded by property company European Land as part of its Merchant Square development.

Meanwhile the Canal & River Trust is currently selling permanent trader mooring spots; one in the Pool at Little Venice and two by the Olympic Park at Hackney Wick.

Photo: Artist's impression of the plans for the far end of Paddington Basin.

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