Greenwich Council to bid again for cash to revamp Avery Hill Winter Garden

Avery Hill Winter Garden
Greenwich University still owns the Winter Garden

Greenwich Council is submitting another bid for government money to refurbish the historic Winter Garden in Avery Hill Park, eight months after is first attempt failed.

The crumbling glasshouse in Eltham, the second largest of its kind after Kew Gardens, was part of Greenwich University’s Mansion site, which is now being converted into a school.

Greenwich University has agreed to transfer the Winter Garden to the council, along with money to help restore it.

But the council says this money is not enough, and last year applied for £4.75 million from the government’s “levelling-up” fund, which has been criticised for neglecting left-behind areas of London and favouring areas where the Conservative Party has most to gain.

The town hall has previously refused to fund the work itself.

When the bid for £4.75m was rejected last October, local MP Clive Efford decried it as a “a slush fund for the Tories to use to bribe voters in Tory marginal seats”. He added: “Only a smattering of money will find its way to Labour areas in an attempt to cover up their deceit. It’s a disgraceful abuse of power and taxpayers money.”

Now the council has confirmed it is submitting a new bid. In a written answer to Conservative councillor Pat Greenwell at Wednesday night’s full council meeting, Aidan Smith, the cabinet member for regeneration, said: “The council is currently developing a bid for submission into the next round of government funding for levelling up.

“The bid is due to be submitted on 6 July and at present there is no timing for when decisions on bids will be made by Government, but we expect this will be towards the end of this year.”

In the meeting itself, Smith asked Greenwell, a councillor for Eltham Town & Avery Hill to write to the levelling-up secretary, Michael Gove, and “use whatever influence and levers that you have with the Conservative government to ensure that the bid is successful”.

Research by this website earlier this year found that of 18 bids made to the levelling-up fund by London authorities, just four were successful.

In the last bid, Greenwich said it hoped to renovate the glass house buildings and ornate pond conservatory, repurpose the fernery building to create an events space, expand the building to support its use as a venue, and replant and landscape the Winter Garden itself.

Smith added that the university still owned the building and had recently carried out major repairs to the roofs.

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