A charitable trust is being set up to drive forward plans for a south London regional park.

Sutton, Croydon, Merton and Wandsworth councils have formed the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust to help realise its plans for a Wandle Valley regional park spanning the four boroughs.

The Sutton Guardian and its sister titles across south London launched a campaign last month calling on the Government to make changes to legislation that currently forces councils to pay millions of pounds towards a north London park.

Since 1967-68, a historic levy on council tax bills has seen tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money from Sutton, Croydon, Merton and Wandsworth spent on the Lee Valley Regional Park.

The four councils now want the money they would save if the levy was scrapped to be spent on the Wandle Valley Park.

Peter Wilkinson, confirmed as chief executive of the trust last week, said the funding would be an incredible boost for the park, which is currently struggling for funding streams.

Funding is needed for initial projects including supporting the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership’s £1.8m bid to help develop the valley’s biodiversity, and developing the Wandle Trail to provide access on foot and cycle to the Wandle.

The trust also wants to develop an employment and trading initiative – the Wandle green team – to work throughout the valley improving green space standards and creating jobs.

A major project will be to develop the 200-hectare country park area in Beddington, much of which is currently the Beddington landfill site.

Mr Wilkinson said: “We are creating a regional park along the River Wandle in south-west London, stretching from the Surrey Hills in Croydon and Carshalton down to the Thames. Here, a rare and exceptional network of green spaces steeped in history will help you get close to nature, be active and create a high quality environment that is good for jobs and sustainable growth.”

The plan is to improve links between the green spaces, as well as develop spaces which have gone into decline.

The trust is also seeking to achieve charitable status within the next six months so it will have greater access to funding.

He said: “The trust has been set up to act as a catalyst for improvement and change.

"Its creation will help to enable the improved management and maintenance of open spaces within the area, and the delivery of projects to transform landscapes and their accessibility – helping to make the Wandle Valley into a valued local resource as well as a visitor destination at a regional scale.”


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