Community facilities at Vanbrugh Yard and The Wilderness
We're starting work to create exciting community facilities at both Vanbrugh Yard and The Wilderness, to be completed by the end of 2023.
We’re opening up part of the existing Nursery Yard to create a new community space called Vanbrugh Yard.
We’ll convert Vanbrugh Lodge into a café with indoor and outdoor seating, with a glasshouse/sun lounge for volunteers and community groups, and a community orchard.
We’ll also convert the sheds next to Vanbrugh Lodge into volunteer facilities and accessible toilet facilities, and transform the nearby machine shed into a storage space.
The new volunteer facility will feature a ‘mess room’ with seating, kitchenette and storage facilities and an adjacent boot room. Volunteers can also use the glasshouse to sit, relax, and grow plants.
The public toilets will be free and there will be a Changing Places facility accessible to disabled visitors. The facility includes an accessible toilet with a changing bench, hoist, an adjustable sink and a shower, accessible with a RADAR key. The machine shed will be equipped with solar panels and an electric vehicle charging point and be used to house the electric mobility buggy. It will provide storage and maintenance space for volunteer tools.
The Vanbrugh Gate park entrance is narrow, so we will widen the area, by moving out the existing Nursery Yard fence, and landscaping the area with wildlife-friendly planting. [Digital team to insert images here]
The Wilderness is proposed as a natural discovery zone for schools and community groups, made up of a new outdoor learning space, an outdoor shelter, natural play facilities, nature trails, a dipping pond and a wildlife meadow. The existing Wildlife Centre will be modernised and provide an entrance to The Wilderness, with accessible toilets and storage space for education and community activities. Public access to this area will be supervised on monthly open days or for special events.
A new learning space in The Wilderness to inspire outdoor learning
The learning space will be highly sustainable and include:
- An acid grassland ‘green roof’ to extend the surrounding habitat
- Intelligent design featuring high-specification insulation and windows orientated to control temperature and allow ventilation. This maximises daylight and minimises fuel use by staying cool in summer and warm in winter.
- An air-source pump rather than a traditional boiler to heat the building. The pump extracts heat from the air and is highly energy efficient.
A shelter to experience the great outdoors
- An outdoor shelter will provide an informal learning and meeting space for schools and community groups. This allows us to increase our environmental education provision and offer children an exciting and unique outdoor learning experience.
Enhancing biodiversity and engaging people with nature
- We propose to create a new pond designed specifically for pond-dipping. This will allow people of all ages to learn about native freshwater species like newts, frogs and dragonflies.
- The meadow outside the existing Wildlife Centre is mostly poor quality but there are patches of rare acid grassland habitat, featuring butterfly food plants such as fine-leaved, native grasses and sheep’s sorrel. We will restore the acid grassland to create a wildlife meadow.
- We propose new supervised nature trails. The existing circular nature trail is overgrown with invasive plants such as bracken and bramble, limiting its wildlife potential.
- We propose to incorporate the woodland between the Flower Garden and Deer Park into The Wilderness. We propose to install natural play features such as fallen trees for climbing and enhance wildlife habitat by planting native woodland flowers, creating stag beetle loggeries and installing bat boxes.