Bernie Spain Gardens

Bernie Spain Gardens design mock up

Bernie Spain Gardens are a hidden oasis at the heart of the South Bank owned, managed and maintained by Coin Street. Since 1988, Bernie Spain Gardens have been serving the local community offering a quiet place for local residents, workers and millions of visitors to enjoy. Now we have planning consent for improvements and you can help us implement them. 

Bernadette Spain 

The Gardens are named after local resident and founder member of the Coin Street Action Group, Bernadette Spain (1936-84). Bernie epitomised the motto of her school – ‘Women in time to come will do much‘. After training as a clinical psychologist, she worked tirelessly to challenge inequality in health and housing. Bernie’s work with the Coin Street Action Group in the 70s and 80s changed the entire fate and face of the area in which she lived.

Serving the local community since 1988 

Bernie Spain Gardens were laid out on the South Bank riverside in 1988. The Gardens are in two parts: the south park, between Stamford Street and Upper Ground, and the north park, between Upper Ground and the riverside walkway. The majority of the north park had only temporary landscaping because there were plans to build on it. Now Coin Street Community Builders, a local social enterprise, has consent to create a permanent scheme with a wide variety of trees and flowers, granite paths, lawns, and facilities for on-site gardeners. 

Why these gardens matter 

We need access to green space to help improve our wellbeing more than ever. From office workers enjoying lunch outdoors, to local school children on field trips, Bernie Spain Gardens give people a rare chance to enjoy nature in one of London’s busiest areas.

A plan for a vibrant future 

Our plans for Bernie Spain Gardens north and the new Queen’s Walk Gardens are based on consultation with neighbours in 2016, a survey of users in 2017, a design competition in 2018, and the development of detailed designs and management strategy overseen by local residents. We were granted planning permission by Lambeth and Southwark Councils in 2019 and now can’t wait to get started.

  • New trees to help improve air quality in the area
  • New pollinator plant beds to attract diverse wildlife
  • Better lighting to help visitors feel safe
  • Improved pathways to guide people through the park
  • More seating throughout the Gardens and along the riverside walkway
  • Lawns to lie on
  • A new pavilion with facilities for gardeners and volunteers
  • New flower beds along the riverside walkway

Transforming our gardens 

Our priority is to improve the north part of the Gardens, which has seen the heaviest footfall and wear and tear over the years. The design competition was won by landscape architects West 8 and their ‘Pollinator Garden’ proposal. The designs, which focus on biodiversity, sustainability and community, were popular with our panel and local residents alike.

Designed for our community

A design with strong engagement and support by local residents means we have visionary landscaping plans to create beautiful new pollinator flowerbeds that will provide a haven for butterflies and bees; open grass areas for play and relaxation; new varieties of trees providing all-year colour and improving air quality; a new Gardeners’ Pavilion, as a base for a new head gardener and deputy, trainee gardeners and apprentices, and for community volunteers. Coin Street will appoint the new on-site staff and meet the ongoing costs of maintaining the new Gardens to the highest standards.

A landscape design competition commenced in 2017, and detailed design work began in 2018. The re-landscaping project developed through this process received planning approval from Lambeth and Southwark in Spring 2019. Dutch landscape architect West 8 won the landscape design competition for its ‘pollinator garden’.

Room to breathe 

Poor air quality is a serious issue in our local area. We’ll improve air quality for everyone in and around the Gardens by planting 22 new trees and making sure existing trees are as strong and healthy as possible. Trees act as natural air purifiers, absorbing airborne chemicals and releasing oxygen.

Maintaining our gardens 

Coin Street plan to appoint a new on-site head gardener and deputy who will make sure the Gardens stay clean, safe and looking their best year-round. They’ll be based in the new gardener’s pavilion and be supported by trainee and apprentice gardeners, and local volunteers.

Where nature meets the city

As well as serving the local community, we want to give nature a place to play. With over 80 new pollinator plant species and a variety of new trees, the redeveloped Gardens will be a natural sanctuary for singing birds and buzzing bees.

“I love Bernie Spain Gardens because they’re like an oasis right in the centre of the South Bank. They’re a refuge for some wildlife which would otherwise have no place in the city.”

Andrea Zick, local worker

Pockets of heaven 

Two new pollinator gardens filled with colourful displays of scented and pollen-rich flowers will sit at the heart of the new north park. As well as looking spectacular, they’ll provide an ideal habitat for birds, bees, butterflies and moths throughout the seasons – a valuable resource for declining pollinator populations.

A natural landscape 

The tree plan for the Gardens aims to give existing trees the best chance to flourish. And we’ll plant 22 new trees, bringing blossom and autumn foliage to the tree canopy. This will include new species, boosting biodiversity and resilience in the Gardens’ woodland areas.

Phase 1

Our vision for improving the tired looking Gardens in the north park is moving a step closer thanks to Lambeth Council. Work on the upper ground boundary has just started and runs until April 2021. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience. However, during the works, access will still be possible from the riverside walkway.

How you can help

Over the years, the Gardens have suffered from constant wear and tear. It’s time to update the natural landscape in the north part of the Gardens and along the riverside walkway. To do this, we need your help. We’re seeking funding to cover the capital cost of delivering this vital landscaping project – and we need as much public support as possible to get that funding.

Get gardening

Love the gardens and fancy some gardening? We run gardening activities at Bernie Spain Gardens and elsewhere locally. To read more about our Gentle Gardening sessions please click here