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Central Area Open Space (North and South) Barking & Dagenham
   
Summary: The Abbey Playing Fields were first proposed in Barking Town UDC's 1943 Report on Post War Redevelopment to provide a 'worthy setting' for Barking Abbey and St Margaret's Church, to be achieved by acquiring and demolishing properties on the site. The plan proposed by Professor G. Peter Youngman was eventually approved in 1965 and the completed scheme based on his design included various areas created as 'a composite whole by the continuity of footpaths, the repetition of similar trees and structural elements and by a sequence of views, enclosed spaces and open spaces.' Central Area Open Space (North & South) was substantially complete by December 1974. In 2009 plans for improving the wider site as Abbey Green commenced, with design proposals by Lynch Architects in partnership with Kinnear Landscape due to commence in 2010.
Previous / Other name: Abbey Playing Field (part); Abbey Green
Site location: Abbey Road, Barking, Essex
Postcode: IG11 > Google Map
Type of site: Public Park
Date(s): 1965-1974
Designer(s): Professor G Peter Youngman
Listed structures:
Borough: Barking & Dagenham
Site ownership: LB Barking & Dagenham
Site management: Parks & Countryside Ranger Service
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events:
Public transport: London Overground/Rail/Tube (Hammersmith & City, District): Barking. Bus: 5, 62, 87, 169, 179, 238, 287, 366, 368, 369, 387.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/05/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.barking-dagenham.gov.uk

Fuller information:

The Abbey Playing Fields, although not completed until 1974, were first proposed in Barking Town Urban District Council's 1943 'Report on Post War Redevelopment' to provide a 'worthy setting' for Barking Abbey (q.v.) and St Margaret's Church (q.v.). This was to be created by acquiring and demolishing all the old residential and industrial property that surrounded the abbey and churchyard, and landscaping this as Public Open Space. The proposal was accepted by the Council and in 1944 was included in Sir Patrick Abercrombie's Greater London Plan as part of the broad green wedge between Barking and East Ham along the River Roding. In 1952-54 Barking Borough Council prepared its proposals for the County Development Plan, which indicated this area as being zoned for public open space purposes, and this was accepted by Essex County Council for incorporation, and then confirmed by the Minister of Housing and Local Government in 1957. In 1960 the scheme was safeguarded by its designation as an area subject to compulsory acquisition in the Quinquennial Review of Essex County Development Plan, but due to local government reorganisation in 1965 the work was not proceeded with, although the Greater London Council were in support. Barking Council appointed Professor G. Peter Youngman as landscape consultant, and accepted his report in June 1965. The completed scheme was based on his design: he 'envisaged a linking together of the various areas into a composite whole by the continuity of footpaths, the repetition of similar trees and structural elements and by a sequence of views, enclosed spaces and open spaces.' The open spaces to north and south of Barking Abbey were to be informal and unfenced. The work was implemented in October 1971, with substantial completion by December 1974.

It is now a key site within the East London Green Grid, a project to connect green spaces to one another and to other important locations. In 2009 plans for improving what was to be called Abbey Green were underway and an international design competition was launched by LB Barking & Dagenham in partnership with Design for London and the Architects Journal. The brief included provision of a small museum, an amphitheatre and play spaces. From a shortlist of 6 design teams, proposals by Lynch Architects in partnership with Kinnear Landscape were unanimously selected and in 2010 public consultation on their designs is taking place. Initial ideas were to propose a 'river landscape' of reeds and wild flowers within which some simple structures would sit. Following consultation with Design for London and local people the design team is now attempting to connect The Gascoigne Estate to the Green, and also proposes to make the Abbey accessible from The Broadway by introducing shallow ramps around the old cloister. A new public space is proposed in front of the Curfew Tower as well as a bandstand beside St Margaret's parish hall.

Sources consulted:

'Barking Abbey Grounds - a record of the realisation of the Scheme prepared for its official opening by the Worshipful the Mayor, Cllr Mrs CSM Godfrey JP on 5 May 1975'
Grid ref: TQ440838
Size in hectares: 3.28
   
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
No
 
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: Yes
Conservation Area name: Abbey and Barking Town Centre
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: Yes - Local Importance
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation:
   

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