Hundreds of Avery Hill Park users are calling on Greenwich Council to bid for lottery money to revive the historic Winter Garden after the Conservative government twice refused to help fund the project.
Two bids to the levelling-up fund were rejected in 15 months, with the latest brush-off coming in January.
The council had asked for £6.9 million towards a £11.7 million project to restore the crumbling glasshouse in Eltham, which is the second largest of its kind after Kew Gardens.
Now the Friends of Avery Hill Park wants the town hall to turn its attention to the Heritage Lottery Fund instead. Late last night 867 people had signed a petition to the council.
The Winter Garden is part of Greenwich University’s former Mansion site, which is being converted into a boys’ school for the Harris academy chain. The university has agreed to transfer the Winter Garden to the council, along with a contribution to the restoration fund.
The glasshouse was built for the nitrates magnate “Colonel” John North, who lived in the mansion in the late 19th century. The mansion later became a teacher training college.
But since the university moved out the glasshouse has fallen into a dilapidated condition. The friends group wants to see it turned into a “thriving hub for leisure, education, community functions and horticultural excellence”.
John Webb, the group’s chair and editor of the local SENine magazine, said: “The Winter Garden can become a source of great pride to the borough to be enjoyed freely for people of all ages and backgrounds. The council has been trying hard to make this happen but it needs one final push to get it over the line.”
The petition can be found at change.org.
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