Green light for creation of new community hub and conservation centre on Tooting Common
Thanks to National Lottery players the latest phase of the Tooting Common Heritage Project is set to begin with the restoration and refurbishment of a pavilion that will serve as a hub for a range of community uses including conservation projects that benefit this popular green space.
Using money provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund and with further funding from the council and match funding secured by local community group The Woodfield Project, the pavilion will be refurbished to provide a base for a wide range of community uses including volunteering and horticultural training opportunities along with environmental and conservation projects to improve the common.
The existing pavilion dates back to the 1930s and stands on green open space known locally as the Woodfield Recreation Ground. It will be transformed into a state-of-the-art community hub at a cost of around £470,000. Work on its restoration is expected to begin next month.
The initiative is part of the wider £1.9m Tooting Common Heritage Project which is rejuvenating the area and enhancing the overall heritage of this important south west London open space.
Cllr Steffi Sutters said: “This is more good news for the common and for the people who love to spend time visiting it and learning about it.
“It is an exciting project that will promote and celebrate the common’s natural biodiversity and breathe new life into this corner of the recreation ground.
“Based in the newly refurbished pavilion, The Woodfield Project will be a community hub organising a wide range of events and activities for the benefit of local people and organisations, including schools, voluntary groups and people involved in training and education.”
Tooting Common covers 220 acres and is the largest open space in Wandsworth. It has been designated a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation – and is ranked in the top tier of these protected spaces – a site of Metropolitan Importance. It is also home to more than 3,000 trees.
As part of the 1.9m conservation project, the common’s lake has been refurbished to improve water quality and offer new and better wildlife habitats. The project has also created new acid grasslands, paid for extensive refurbishment work at the popular Tooting Bec Lido, recreated a historic avenue of trees and funded the complete restoration of the common’s 1930s drinking fountain.
As well as restoring ancient habitats and boosting biodiversity, the scheme is also offering new volunteering opportunities for local people that not only improve the common but give those who take part useful new job and life skills.
It will also see the compilation of ‘The Common Story’ - a project that will work with volunteers to unravel some of Tooting Common’s historical mysteries and provide research and archive training to those taking part.
The council has been awarded just under £1.4m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore, conserve and enhance Tooting Common’s cultural and natural heritage. Another £500,000 is being match funded through various partners including Transport for London, The Woodfield Project, Wandsworth Council and Enable Leisure and Culture.
The Woodfield Project has raised match-funding from Veolia Environmental Trust and from Western Riverside Environmental Fund, in both cases under the Landfill Communities Fund scheme, so it is thanks also to these funders that the pavilion’s refurbishment can go ahead.
The Tooting Common Heritage Project is being delivered by Enable Leisure and Culture on behalf of Wandsworth Council in partnership with the South London Swimming Club, Tooting History Group, the Wandsworth Historical Society, idverde and The Woodfield Project.