Durham County Council
Wharton Park is one of the oldest parks in the north-east, located in the heart of Durham City with stunning views towards the World Heritage Site of Durham Castle and Cathedral. It was originally a private garden laid out around the home of William Lloyd Wharton, who was High Sheriff of Durham and a Director of the North Eastern Railway. Southern Green was originally commissioned by Durham City Council in 2006 to undertake a site survey and masterplan proposals to support a First Round bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. At this time the park was in a very poor state of repair, but despite securing a £3M restoration grant the project took several years to come to fruition due to local government restructuring. Durham County Council recommissioned Southern Green to develop the Second Round bid and to oversee delivery of the works on site.
The main challenges of the project were to restore the crumbling stone walls and steps, improve the visibility and profile of the park, enhance access across the very steep site and improve visitor facilities. A contemporary heritage centre and cafe now provides the starting point for a walk along the Grade II Listed battlements and battery, whilst extensive structural works have stabilised the main access routes through the park. New play areas have been created, statuary has been restored and signage and street furniture replaced, whilst the Friends of Wharton Park have established a new community garden. The park was officially re-opened in May 2015 and received 12,000 visitors on its first weekend. The project was Highly Commended at the 2016 Landscape Institute Awards.