For bookworms and classic movie buffs, the notion of a London park will forever conjure up images of Mary Poppins with the Banks children in tow.
Fans of the 1964 Disney cinematic extravaganza will have the added bonus of recalling Dick Van Dyke’s unique take on a Cockney accent in the role of Bert the Chimney Sweep as he and Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins) sang and stepped in time “over the rooftops”.
The fictional park on Cherry Tree Lane in PL Travers’ book series (on which the 1964 and 2018 films are based) was also a portal to a planet populated by talking cats, of all things, and if it seems a world away from today’s urban oases, think again.
Because, just as the stories involving the umbrella-toting Edwardian nanny swoop upwards to give an aerial take on the city, looking to the skies is also the concept behind London’s newest landmark.
The city’s first elevated linear park, The Tide, was unveiled this month at Greenwich Peninsula, the biggest urban regeneration site in Europe.
What’s especially exciting about this new space is it offers one of the world’s largest free-to-view permanent public art collections, by Damien Hirst, Allen Jones, Morag Myerscough and Studio Morison.
Designed by Diller Scofidio Renfro, the co-designers of New York City’s High Line, in collaboration with Neiheiser Argyros, The Tide features an elevated walkway nine metres high and flows through native trees, giant sculptures, sunken gardens, a 27-metre long outdoor picnic table and a unique jetty garden surrounded by the Thames. This riverside destination is aimed at promoting art, design and wellbeing, according to its developers.
In the heart of the £8.5 billion revamp of Greenwich Peninsula (which was a derelict part of the city for many years), the new linear park is part of a £500 million investment in public spaces in this area.
Research from Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) forecasts that property values and rental growth in this new district will outperform the Central London average over the next five years, with estimated sales prices to increase nearly 15% by 2023.
The site is being developed by Hong Hong company Knight Dragon and once completed in 2032 it will have created more than 15,000 new homes, including nearly 4,000 affordable residences.
Benjamin Gilmartin of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, adds: “Visitors will experience the park from varying vantage points, from street level up to nine-metre-high elevated paths that weave through the site to plug into the existing network of leisure, art, and social life across neighbourhoods.”
Bridges between elevated timber-decked “stepping stones” planted with native trees and vegetation provide visitors with platforms to enjoy the panoramic views of the River Thames.
Tiny-house building has exploded in response to rising house prices. Cork builder JP Simpson, who himself lives in a tiny house, launches his business, Big Man Tiny Homes, today and tomorrow, 12-6pm, at the Old Head of Kinsale in Cork.