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Inventory Site Record

Camley Street Natural Park (Camden)

Brief Description

Although Camley Street Natural Park only opened in 1985 it is a legacy of the pioneering conservation projects set up by the GLC's London Ecology Unit. Situated adjacent to the Regent's Canal, from Victorian times until 1960s the site was used as a coal depot, but then became derelict. Acquired by the GLC in 1981 for a lorry park, local people successfully lobbied against this with the London Wildlife Trust. As a result it became a community nature park, attracting a diverse range of wetland species of flora and fauna. It contains woodland, marshland, reed beds around a pond, wild flower meadow and garden area. In 2020 a new visitor centre building was completed by Ash Construction, and other improvements

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Camley Street Nature Park
Site location:
12 Camley Street, King's Cross
Postcode:
NW1 0PW
What 3 Words:
sorters.king.saving
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Borough:
Camden
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
Daily 10am-4pm
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 11 times, most recently in 2016.
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Visitor Centre and Learning Centre, Kingfisher Cafe (Wed-Sun 10am-4pm)
Events:
Educational programme plus arts and other events
Public transport:
Rail: King's Cross. Tube: King's Cross (Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City, Piccadilly, Circle, Victoria, Northern). Bus: 214.
Research updated:
24/11/2022
Last minor changes:
19/07/2023

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.wildlondon.org.uk/camley-street-natural-park

Full Site Description

Although Camley Street Nature Park only opened in 1985 it is a legacy of the pioneering conservation projects set up by the GLC's London Ecology Unit and is an example of the success and importance of urban ecology for environmental and educational purposes in the heart of London. Situated adjacent to the Regent's Canal, from Victorian times the site was used as a coal depot until the 1960s, then left derelict it became a rubbish dump, and was then acquired by the GLC for a lorry/coach park in 1981. In 1982 local people lobbied against this with the London Wildlife Trust and as a result it became a community nature park, opened to the public in May 1985 by Ken Livingstone, then Leader of the GLC. Following abolition of the GLC it was transferred to LB Camden who lease it for a peppercorn rent to the London Wildlife Trust. It was designated a Local Nature Reserve and has become an extremely popular resource for visitors. When it opened, the visitor centre was an old cricket pavilion and the site had a diverse range of wetland species of flora and fauna and attracted c. 50 bird species, with 2 areas of wild space with woodland, marshland, reed beds around the pond, wild flower meadow and garden area. In 1988 its future was threatened when the King's Cross railway lands were designated for redevelopment for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link which has resulted in some land lost in the south although an additional area was given in the south-east corner. 

The nature park was closed between 2018-2020 while a major project took place to build a much-needed new visitor and learning centre together with improvements to the landscape. The work commenced in 2018, with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and supported by numerous other agencies: Thames Water; Camden Giving's HS2 Camden Fund; Stavros Niarchos Foundation; Garfield Weston Foundation; Charles Hayward Foundation; Veolia Environmental Trust; Hedley Foundation; John Lyon's Charity; Taurus Foundation and Greater London Authority (GLA). Built by Ash Construction, the fully accessible building opened in 2020 and includes an education studio with multi-functional learning space, a café and facilities for volunteers. An outdoor learning area has been created, using space created by the construction of the Somers Town Bridge to the north of the park provides a new wildlife-friendly habitat on the banks of the Regent’s Canal. Other improvements include wider and more accessible footpaths and ‘citizen science stops’ to introduce visitors to particular wildlife habitats; wildlife-friendly spaces for nesting swifts and bats, and new views across the nature reserve and the Regent’s Canal. Camley Street Natural Park re-opened on 13 October 2020. 

Sources consulted:

Michael Waite, Daniel Keech, Meg Game, 'Nature Conservation in Camden', Ecology Handbook 24 (London Ecology Unit), 1993; B Smyth, 'A Green Guide to Urban Wildlife', Black, 1990; information on site. Camley Street Natural Park to reopen on Wednesday 13th October | London Wildlife Trust (wildlondon.org.uk)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ299834 (529973,183456)
Size in hectares:
1
Site ownership:
LB Camden, leased to London Wildlife Trust
Site management:
London Wildlife Trust
Date(s):
1984/5
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
None
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

Local Authority Data

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:
Yes
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Regent's Canal
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropolitan Importance
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
Yes - King's Cross Area of Opportunity
Other LA designation:
Local Nature Reserve. King's Cross Area of Opportunity.
Photos

Camley Street Natural Park

Camley Street Natural Park, August 2002. Photo: S Williams

Camley Street Natural Park: new entrance and Visitor Centre, June 2022. Photograph Sally Williams
2022
Camley Street Natural Park: new entrance and Visitor Centre, June 2022. Photograph Sally Williams
2022
Camley Street Natural Park, June 2022. Photograph Sally Williams
2022
Camley Street Natural Park, June 2022. Photograph Sally Williams
2022
Camley Street Natural Park, June 2022. Photograph Sally Williams
2022
Camley Street Natural Park, June 2022. Photograph Sally Williams
2022
Camley Street Natural Park, Pond and reed beds, August 2002. Photo: S Williams
2002

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.