Rethinking an urban park

This project is testing innovative, nature based approaches in Central Park, Plymouth’s largest park, focusing on delivery of sustainable drainage solutions in the Central Park Ponds Project and a Treescape for the future.

Central Park Pond Project

This project will transform rainwater from a problem into a resource for wildlife and the community, by using a Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) that harnesses the power of nature to improve the flow of rainwater and reduce flooding in a changing climate, in a way that complements the natural environment. The project will improve access, conserve heritage features and trees, create a destination space, make homes for wildlife and provide a place to learn about water and nature.

Find out more about the project by watching the video below...

Addressing existing drainage issues…

Currently, the pond and park drainage near the Barn Park entrance do not work meaning heavy rainfall can flood the area and cause drains to overflow making it hard for people to travel through the park. Additionally, runoff from the park contributes to flooding downstream.

...through enhancing wildlife and amenity value

Our solution will collect rainwater into a series of ponds - the existing pond and two new larger ponds - that will hold water all year and will journey here through redesigned granite drainage channels and a new swale; a shallow area of wet grassland with small dams and weirs that slow the flow of water and help it enter the ground. Whilst these changes involve reshaping areas of the park and removing a small number of trees, a large amount of new planting will help to capture rainwater and create a better place for wildlife like bees, birds, bats and frogs. Raising existing walkways, stepping stones and new viewing platforms with seating will allow visitors to connect with these wild areas, and provide space for outdoor learning and there will be opportunities for the community to be involved in delivery of the project.

Treescape for the Future: conserve, engage, future proof

Central Park is home to a diverse mix of thousands of trees, including veteran, remarkable and champion trees. In recent years, storms have had a notable impact on park trees, resulting in visible gaps in the park landscape and there are new challenges from diseases like Ash dieback. In response to this, the Treescape for the Future will develop a strategy for trees in Central Park, which celebrates their social and environmental value and inspires and supports communities to work together with the Council to care for them.


1 – Conserve

Care for existing trees and identify opportunities for replacing trees.

2 – Engage

Encourage interaction with trees; to learn about, connect with and celebrate trees. Provide opportunities to discover the relationships between wildlife and trees and take part in action for nature.

3 – Future proof

Ensure that trees continue to thrive in a changing climate; review and update management practices to ensure best outcomes for trees and nature; work with the community and partners to identify opportunities for planting; enhance the existing tree stock; ensure planting follows Plymouth Plan for Trees and benefits people and nature.


  1. Pounds Park – celebrate and enhance the features that make Pounds Park special: peace and space, formal gardens, mature specimen trees, networks for nature, heritage.
  2. The woodland – secure the future of the woods, make improvements for wildlife, update management practices.
  3. Conservation project for elm trees & White-letter hairstreak butterflies (which rely on elm trees)– planting trees, nature surveys, habitat creation and management for wildlife, action plan for elm trees and WLH butterflies in Central Park.
  4. The old Zoo Field – designing and delivering a new landscape design to benefit people and nature.
  5. Southern slopes area (fields south of the baseball pitch) – Tree planting.

Related News