Lewisham Council offered a preview of the £6.8 million regeneration of Beckenham Place Park – including the much-anticipated new lake for wild swimming.
The final touches are being made ahead of a launch event next Saturday (July 20), with the restored Georgian lake the ‘centrepiece’ of the three-and-a-half-year project, mayor Damien Egan said.
The regeneration also includes a new wet woodland, play areas, BMX track, skate park, public toilets, as well as a café, visitor hub and education centre in the Georgian Homestead with £4.8 million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Lewisham Council contributed nearly £2 million to the project.
Mayor Damien Egan said: “After three years of hard work, Beckenham Place Park has been transformed into a beautiful, peaceful location. As south east London’s largest park it can now be enjoyed by all. The restored lake has been the centrepiece of this work, and the ability to swim, paddle and kayak will be a unique opportunity for Lewisham residents.”
Cabinet member for environment and transport, Councillor Sophie McGeevor, said the park is now a place for everyone.
“It is somewhere that Lewisham residents can be proud of, a destination that draws people in from across London to swim in its lake, walk in its woods, and play in its grounds,” she said.
The authority has also confirmed the charging schedule for the summer but this may change depending on demand, a council officer said.
Swimmers over the age of 18 will pay £5 for a two or three hour slot.
Under 18s, over 60s and those that can prove they are on a low income will get a £2.50 concession.
The lake can take a maximum of 60 swimmers at a time and is around 285 metres long by 48 metres wide and 3.5 metres at its deepest level.
But the project has not been without controversy, with a row breaking out in 2016 over the removal of the park’s golf course – the last public golf course in London.
A petition to keep the golf course garnered 7000 signatures.
The new café opens early August.