Alfred Place Gardens is a tranquil, richly planted, and welcoming park in London’s West End, situated alongside Tottenham Court Road, between Euston Road and Oxford Street. It is the first new park in the area in 25 years, achieved by reclaiming road space for people and nature. It has generous seating, biodiverse planting and shade-giving mature trees.
Before it became a welcoming city green space, Alfred Place was a heavily parked back street. With nowhere to sit, it was a place to hurry through. The neighbourhood lacked spaces for families and workers.
The brief was to reimagine Alfred Place to support the community and businesses; to encourage active travel and improve air quality; to create a more climate resilient environment, reducing flood risk; and to provide a richer visitor experience.
Renamed Alfred Place Gardens, the street now prioritises pedestrians and cyclists, whilst maintaining access for essential services and emergency vehicles. A meandering path provides a new spine and elegant, curved timber seating is designed to make socialising easy. The value was felt immediately as visitors stretched out on new lawns in the sunshine, in the heart of London’s West End. Playful elements encourage families to spend time.
The Gardens offer a variety of experiences made seamless through planting. There are three character areas: a dappled-shade woodland walk under a mature tree canopy with forest-floor planting of wild garlic, snowdrops, and ferns. This flows into a sequence of play spaces which make the most of openings in the tree cover. Plants with sizeable seed heads were chosen here for their playfulness. The third area features lounging lawns and an events space edged with grasses and colourful herbaceous perennials. Planting is selected to withstand hot, dry summers. Biodegradable moisture retention gels in the soil provide back up. Steppingstones through the planting, sculptural walls and climbing features add interest.
The park is designed to tolerate sudden deluges. Permeable resin paths include 30% recycled content, with absorbed rainwater quenching the borders. Combined with significant areas of new planting, this creates a substantial water catchment area. A safe cycle and pedestrian connection and new bike stands support active travel.
The final design was shaped through engagement with local residents, workers, businesses and interest groups. Pop-up consultation events were held on site, and a full-time Camden Engagement Officer helped build relationships. Design workshops were hosted at the nearby Building Centre. Comments included ‘lots of seating’ and ‘green as possible’
Alfred Place Gardens is part of Camden’s award-winning West End Project with LDA Design, the borough’s largest council-led public realm and transport scheme. As well as Alfred Place Gardens, the programme includes restoration of Whitfield Gardens and the reclaiming of road space to create a jewel of a new civic space at Princes Circus, plus four new pocket parks. Congestion on the two main roads in the area has reduced significantly, by as much as 70% on Tottenham Court Road during restricted hours. The West End Project has also successfully attracted more people to the area, hitting one million visitors in a week. Local heritage is restored and cared for, there are around 2.6km of new cycle lanes and air quality has improved, with NO2 better than 2018 levels.
Alfred Place Gardens demonstrates that city centre road to park conversions make perfect sense, posing a visceral challenge to society’s blithe acceptance of vehicle domination. Its scale is significant. As an everyday street common to most neighbourhoods, Alfred Place Gardens makes it easy for people to see how their area could be similarly improved. It represents a radical shift in what people can expect from city streets and is a high-quality example of a slower, softer, greener, healthier urban landscape that feels rewarding.
Alfred Place Gardens
Location: London, UK.
Project team to be credited:
LDA Design – Landscape Architect, Lead Designer
Camden Council – Client
Arcadis – Civil, M&E and Structural Engineers
Norman Rourke Pryme – Construction Project Management and Cost Consultancy
Michael Grubb Studio – Lighting Design
ID Verde – Contractor
DSDHA – Overarching West End Project Strategy
Image Credits: Neil Speakman / LDA Design; LDA Design;