Mile End Park has more signs than strictly necessary
The expensive turf-roofed ecology pavilion sees little use, because ecology does not need indoor accommodation
The Grand Union Canal, which runs beside Mile End Park, provides a beautiful and useful space
The green bridge over the road sees much less use than the canal towpath which goes under the road.
This may be the most expensive park ever made - and one of the least used. Every park planner should visit this park, before lifting a pencil or laying a finger on a keyboard. The park started well, as part of the 1943 plan, at the time of the 2004 plan was an on-going disaster. In story-book terms, this is what happened:
The most intensively used part of Mile End Park is, unsurprisingly, the land beside the canal. The central spine walk, which cost so much to make, is unattractive to visitors. Nor are the vacant expanses of grass and shrubbery at all well used. It is a great disappointment - and a continuing lesson that:
Architects, town planners and engineers may well have an interest in landscape architecture and planning, just as I have an interest in cardiology. But we lack the necessary expertise to give a professional service.
The land for Mile End Park was compulsorily purchased, at existing use prices. By 2005, the park comprised 90 acres of land. See Mile End Park. Residential land in Tower Hamlets cost approx £6m/acre in 2005 (see LS Planning Consultants website). This gives a cost, in 2005 prices, of £540m. If we ignore the demolition cost for the housing and industry which previously occupied the site and give an estimate of park construction cost of £300/m2, then the construction cost comes out at £100m (since The Green Bridge and Terrace Garden cost £25m, this may well be a conservative estimate). Since I counted 120 people in the park on a hot summer afternoon, let us make the generous assumptions that the average use through the year is 100 visitors/hour for 12 hours/day and that the park can be maintained with a staff of 10 people at a salary + overhead cost of £40,000/year each. If the capital cost (£540m+£100m+£25m= £665m) is amortized over 30 years (£665/30= £22m/year) then the following estimates can be made, in 2005 prices:
|Capital cost per year||£22m|
|Maintenance cost per year||£400,000|
Number of park visits per year
|Cost per park visit||£51.14|
This may be only half the cost of a visit to the Royal Opera, but it still seems rather a lot to exercise a dog.