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London’s Pocket Parks: Cossall Park, SE15

This is a relatively new park in Peckham being about 50 years old created in the 1970s as part of housing clearance and council building.

One of the unexpected mysteries of the park is exactly when was it created. This shouldn’t be a difficult thing to work out, as it’s a fairly new park, but the best I can do is to say that it was created sometime in the middle of the 1970s, and apparently related to the cancelled plans for the Ringway around London.

My best assumption in the absence of proven documents is that it was created in the middle of the 1970s when the council built the housing estate around the south and east of the park – likely as clearance of the terraced housing that was there to be replaced by council flats and a park.

The best I have been able to find is a road traffic notice allowing the roads that ran through the land to be cleared for the park to be closed dated from May 1975, so the park should date from late 1975 or 1976.

It’s quite peculiar that I was unable to fix a specific date that the park was opened though.

The park was, until just recently, mostly open grass with a playcourt and plating around the edges, but was looking rather tired and insipid. The park is however now being refurbished after Southwark Council developed a masterplan in 2019 to upgrade the park and facilities.

They’re doing the work in phases as and when funding is found to cover the costs, so patches look brand new and others untouched. The plans are seeing a new nature area created and new paths to lead people around previously quieter areas of the park that were underused. The new paths then open up more space where people tend to relax by removing the older routes that cut through them.

The design of the park is by LDA Design, the same landscape firm that recently worked on the pedestrianisation of Strand and Princes Circus.

On my visit a few months ago, some of the new planting was just being laid behind fences, so should be fully bedded in by now.

The wider variety of zones in the park, with the nature reserve, a new playground and the improved paths should make it a nicer place to spend more time in if we get a summer any time soon.

Although surrounded by mostly Victorian and post-war housing, there’s one house here that’s notable – as it’s known as The Sliding Glass Roof House, and its construction was featured in Channel 4’s Grand Designs as an example of slipping an entire home into a narrow space. You can (try) to find it on Consort Road – it’s quite difficult to spot if you don’t know what the very restrained frontage looks like.

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