South Essex green and blue plan wins international architecture award

A radical vision to transform the environment of South Essex into a unified system of five linked and varied large-scale landscapes, SEEPARK, has won a prestigious World Architecture Festival (WAFX) award.

SEEPARK (South Essex Estuary Park) is an ambitious plan to tackle climate change, ecological collapse and to level-up the region through the creative use of natural assets such as parks, woods, rivers and wetlands. The plan is the result of joint working by the seven councils covering South Essex.

South Essex has these assets in abundance, but it faces the challenges of flood risk, poor connectivity between sites, miles and miles of waterfront that is often difficult to access, agricultural land that covers 70% of the region but lacks nature conservation, and interesting sites and plentiful green spaces that are often difficult to access by much of the population.

SEEPARK’s answer to these challenges is to create:

  • 200km of enhanced waterfront paths and 550km of cycleways to be enjoyed by residents and visitors
  • 125km2 of new flood management to protect homes and businesses
  • a network of natural landscapes totalling 24,000 hectares, including 2,500 hectares of new parks and gardens, 4,500 hectares of enhanced woodlands and 7,500 hectares of restored marshlands to tackle ecological degradation, reduce carbon in the atmosphere and improve our air quality.

Chair of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities and Leader of Brentwood Borough Council, Cllr Chris Hossack, said: “South Essex local authorities are working together in partnership to deliver more collectively for our residents and businesses than each can do individually. South Essex is blessed with many natural assets, much greener than many would think, bordered by the Thames and with miles of inland waterways. SEEPARK is about how we use these natural assets much better – so they can be enjoyed by more people, so they offer greater natural protection against flooding and climate change and so they can make a greater contribution to our local economic success. That’s what SEEPARK is all about.

“That SEEPARK has been chosen as one of 20 exemplary projects by the World Architecture Festival is testament to the quality and innovation of the plan and the collective will among South Essex councils to make this happen.”

The SEEPARK plan springs from the South Essex Green and Blue Infrastructure Study commissioned by the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) and prepared by Alexandra Steed URBAN, in collaboration with Green Infrastructure Consultancy, Jam Consult, and Prior + Partners.

See the full WAFX winners list.