Beckenham Place Park
The new lake in Beckenham Place Park means SE Londoners won’t have to travel to Hampstead for wild swimming

SE Londoners will be able to enjoy the £6.8 million regeneration of the area’s largest park from next weekend – including a much-anticipated new lake for wild swimming.

Lewisham Council is putting the final touches to Beckenham Place Park ahead of a launch event on Saturday, with the restored Georgian lake the centrepiece of the three-and-a-half-year project.

The regeneration also includes a new wet woodland, play areas, BMX track, skate park, public toilets, as well as a cafe, visitor hub and education centre in the park’s Georgian mansion with £4.8 million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Lewisham Council contributed nearly £2 million to the project. The borough’s elected mayor, Damien Egan, said: “After three years of hard work, Beckenham Place Park has been transformed into a beautiful, peaceful location. As south east London’s largest park it can now be enjoyed by all. The restored lake has been the centrepiece of this work, and the ability to swim, paddle and kayak will be a unique opportunity for Lewisham residents.”

Beckenham Place Park lake
The park was dominated by the only public golf course in an inner London borough

The borough’s cabinet member for environment and transport, Sophie McGeevor, said the park was now a place for everyone.

“It is somewhere that Lewisham residents can be proud of, a destination that draws people in from across London to swim in its lake, walk in its woods, and play in its grounds,” she said.

Charges for swimming in the lake this summer have been revealed, although Lewisham says that costs may change depending on demand.

Beckenham Place Park
Lewisham Council hopes the new-look park will be a draw for people from all over London

Swimmers over the age of 18 will pay £5 for a two or three-hour slot. Under-18s, over-60s and those that can prove they are on a low income will pay £2.50. (3.30pm update: Prices have already changed: from the lake’s second day, 21 July, they will be £3 for adults, £2 for concessions and £10 for a family ticket – find out more.)

The lake can take a maximum of 60 swimmers at a time. It is about 285 metres long by 48 metres wide, and 3.5 metres at its deepest level.

Lewisham’s scheme to revamp the 237-acre park, on the borough border with Bromley, has not been without controversy. In 2016 a row blew up over the removal of the park’s golf course, which was the only public golf course in inner London. A petition to keep the course gained 7,000 signatures.

The new café will open in early August.

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Bridie Witton is the Local Democracy Reporter for Lewisham. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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