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Sutcliffe Park and Harrow Meadow Greenwich

Sutcliffe Park and Harrow Meadow

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The site was previously known as Harrow Meadow, an area of boggy open land through which the River Quaggy ran. This was culverted by Woolwich Metropolitan Borough Council in the 1930s when the area was being developed for housing, and 35 acres were landscaped for a public park, largely as playing fields. Sutcliffe Park opened in 1937, named after a former Borough Engineer; an athletics ground was added in 1954. To alleviate problems of flooding in the area when the river burst its banks, a scheme was drawn up in 1995 to lower the ground level of part of the park to accommodate flood waters. These works were completed and also included re-landscaping the park, which re-opened in 2004.
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Eltham Road/Tudway Road, Eltham
Postcode: SE9/SE3
Type of site: Public Park 
Date(s): 1937; 1954; 2004
Listed structures:
Borough: Greenwich
Site ownership: RB Greenwich
Site management: Parks and Open Spaces Department; Friends of Sutcliffe Park
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: 9am - dusk
Special conditions:
Public transport: Rail: Kidbrooke. Bus: 122, 160, 321, B16
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2011
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Fuller information:

The open land known as Harrow Meadow was prone to flooding due to the Quaggy River that ran through it. As the surrounding area was being developed for housing in the 1930s, Woolwich Metropolitan Borough Council diverted the river underground in concrete culverts, and landscaped 35 acres of Harrow Meadow as a new park. Sutcliffe Park was laid out largely as playing fields and opened in May 1937, named after Mr J Sutcliffe, the former Borough Engineer of Woolwich Borough Council. The park's athletics ground was later added and opened on 26 June 1954. There were formerly bowling green and tennis courts that were in use until the mid 1990s and to the west were playing fields with trees around the boundary, and further west of this was the athletics track. The Quaggy entered in the south-east and ran through underneath the park. In times of heavy rainfall low-lying areas suffered flooding, including the town centre at Lewisham, and by the 1980s a scheme was needed to alleviate the problems of flooding in the wider area when the river burst its banks.

Sutciffe Park was an obvious place to hold flood waters at such times, and a scheme was drawn up in 1995 by the National Rivers Authority (now the Environment Agency) to lower the ground level of part of the park to accommodate flood waters. The Sutcliffe Park Flood Storage Scheme Landscape Management Plan (1999) was carried out, and as a result part of the river now flows above ground in the park, with underground culvert remaining on the east and north boundaries. The scheme included re-landscaping of the park, including creation of informal play areas, a nature trail, large pond and some replanting. The park was officially re-opened on 12 June 2004. A circular seating area has been created using reclaimed oak timbers from the Thames, undertaken by a Mencap scheme called The Riverwood Project.

The park's original north/south path, bordered by an avenue of trees including a number of large willows, has been retained, with a number of wooden footbridges now provided over the Quaggy. Along the western boundary the avenue of horse chestnut trees remains. Some of the grassland and sports pitches have been replaced by wetland habitats, and there is a greater emphasis on biodiversity and ecological benefits. The Athletics Track is now surrounded by a fence and beech hedge, and is leased to Greenwich Leisure Limited. The Environment Agency was awarded the RSPB/CIWEM Living Wetlands Award in 2007 for the scheme, and it now has Local Nature Reserve Status and has been designated a Site of Nature Conservation Importance.

Sutcliffe Park is also within the Kidbrooke area that is currently undergoing regeneration as part of a 15-20 year project by Berkeley Homes in partnership with Greenwich Council. This commenced in 2009 to provide new homes and other facilities including a new public park as well as landscaping. What remained of Harrow Meadow will be eventually be built over with new housing.

Sources consulted:

Reference in Jefferson; LB Greenwich 'Sutcliffe Park Management Plan 2007-2012'
Grid ref: TQ412749
Size in hectares: 16.7
On EH National Register : No
EH grade :
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
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: No
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order: Not known
Nature Conservation Area: Yes (Local Nature Reserve Status)
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: Yes - Area of Special Character of Local Importance
Other LA designation: Green Chain

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