INGRESS PARK Architect: Murdock Wickham Housebuilder: Crest Nicholson (South East) It was the Victorians who seeded the concept of urban parks - first in Preston and by 1900 in almost every UK town. Since then, the fashion for creating landscaped open spaces has withered - much to the judges' chagrin. Ingress Park at Greenhithe, Kent, recaptures the beauty and integrity of the original municipal park movement.
In its time Ingress Park has served as a royal estate, an army hospital, and a nautical training college. Today its 29 hectares host 950 new homes, shops, live-work units and a school. At its heart sits a Grade II-listed abbey and attendant follies and grottoes, originally landscaped by Capability Brown and now sensitively restored.
Meticulous restoration of the Victorian abbey and gardens - now used as commercial offices - has given the development of eight semi-contained communities an elegant focal point, said the judges.
Beyond the formality of the abbey, the design eases into a relaxed and apparently natural landscape. Restored woodland offsets housing density - a factor that considerably impressed the panel. Planting established trees, for example, has given the landscape an immediate maturity, adding considerable impact to the development.
Meanwhile, the reinvigorated waterfront, with its circular piazza and nautical pebble mosaic, provides variety and complements the townscape.
Linking the waterfront and abbey via a tree-lined boulevard, commented the judges, created a truly beautiful gateway to the wider development.
Reinstating the splendour of Ingress Park was a considerable achievement; existing trees surrounding the abbey were too sick to rescue, while creeping industrialisation had reduced much green space to brownfield. Poor soil and a vast ood plain added to the complications.
The carefully masterplanned and now ourishing habitat belies these initial obstacles.
Ingress Park, noted the judges, is the essence of successful landscaping in the Victorian tradition.