London’s first Floating Pocket Park is set to open this spring at Merchant Square in Paddington, following approval from Westminster City Council and the Canal and River Trust.
The new 730 sq m floating park in Paddington Basin on the Grand Union Canal will provide a striking green public space on the water with its own canal boat mooring. Developer European Land and Property Limited commissioned acclaimed garden designer Tony Woods of The Garden Club to create the new park at the heart of Merchant Square, complementing the canal-side neighbourhood’s award-winning public realm, and strengthening its commitment to providing innovative ways for the local community to connect through the use of outdoor space.
Andrew Scrivener, Chief Executive at European Land welcomed the planning approval: “Outdoor spaces are a key ingredient in any successful neighbourhood. At Merchant Square this incredible Floating Pocket Park – the first in London - will not only provide green space for our residents and unique outside workplace for our occupiers, but creates an oasis in the West End, offering Londoners a way to actively reconnect with the canal."
The Floating Pocket Park will feature open lawn areas, densely planted nectar-rich mixed raised borders and communal seating, as well as allowing people to walk over the water on a series of decked platforms and walkways. Bespoke planting has been developed to encourage wildlife and the park includes a separate pontoon designed to attract ground-nesting birds. The park will form part of the Greater London Authority’s ‘green infrastructure’ - an ongoing initiative to improve and connect streets, squares, parks, and canal and riverside spaces across London.
Robert Davis MBE DL, Westminster City Council Deputy Leader said: “Merchant Square’s plans to create a floating park in the Paddington Basin will rejuvenate a forgotten section of the canal and create a peaceful oasis for people to enjoy. Our canals were once the arteries that brought the industrial revolution into the heart of London before modern technology left many stretches unused and unloved. The council welcomes this ingenious reinvention of the waterway which gives this part of the Grand Union a new purpose - attracting more businesses and visitors to the area.”
A contemporary pavilion will provide support for plants and shade for visitors as well as a dedicated area for events with capacity for 120 visitors, designed to extend Merchant Square’s popular programme and attract London-wide partnerships. Free Wi-Fi across the estate encourages mobile working, and planting has been designed to sit comfortably with the more formal arrangements around the site and introduces softer textural herbaceous plants and grasses as ornamental centrepieces. Open all year, the Floating Pocket Park will change across the seasons with stem colour in autumn, scented winter flowers, spring bulbs and an abundance of summer flowers.
Former Royal Horticultural Society Young Garden Designer of the Year and Gold medalist Tony Woods, who led the design, commented, “Working to design the Floating Pocket Park has been a hugely exciting challenge, not only is this a truly one of a kind garden for London but a huge re-think of the way that we create public space in urban areas.”
The Floating Pocket Park will complement existing urban design interventions including award-winning pedestrian bridges and a popular programmable water and light maze. It forms part of Merchant Square’s overall commitment to its residents and corporate tenants to create a sustainable and connected community. The neighbourhood is linked physically with excellent transport infrastructure, digitally, socially and by a sense of shared knowledge and learning.