Plans to build one of the UK's most innovative greenhouses in Hyde Park were unveiled this week.
The Royal Parks (TRP) says the £5million 'super nursery' project will help it grow nearly all the 500,000 flowers and shrubs it plants across its eight London parks.
The project is already underway, with the demolition of the old and dilapidated nursery in Hyde Park now complete to make way for a state-of-the-art nursery that will serve the 5,000-acre Royal Parks estate.
The nursery will be constructed by Deforche Construct NV and Climate Controls Ltd. It will be the first major glasshouse production facility in the UK to use Deforche Cabrio technology which, much like the roof at Wimbledon, can open and close dependent on the fickle British weather.
The roof will help the acclimatisation of young plants, so they do not have to be moved outside for hardening - saving on labour and maximising space.
Covering the size of a football pitch, the new greenhouse will replace the previous 1960s nursery which had reached the end of its life and was therefore beyond repair.
As well as helping TRP save £200,000 per year on its planting costs, the nursery will also deliver educational opportunities for TRP apprentices and engage the community through workshops and open days.
Other features of the nursery will include a rainwater recovery system, LED lighting throughout and existing boilers fitted with new flues to ensure maximum energy efficiency.
The glasshouse will also be split into 13 controlled zones, each operated by Climate Controls' latest technology, which will adapt the climate according to the needs of the plants.
Steve Edwards, Head of Special Projects at The Royal Parks, said: "We were faced with a decision - either build a new nursery from scratch or completely outsource."
"However, most commercial nurseries grow a maximum of 100 varieties compared to the 2,000 varieties we require. We were simply not prepared to sacrifice the high standard of horticultural excellence that millions of visitors each year have come to expect."
"The new contract will ultimately save us around £200,000 a year through things like the reduction of energy expenditure and wastage, so in time the new nursery will actually pay for itself."
"By not outsourcing the nursery service, we will also reduce the need for transportation, which benefits the environment. Sustainability has been at the very forefront of this project and we have selected a design which meets the highest environmental standards. Furthermore 99% of materials from the demolished nursery are being recycled."
John Page from Climate Controls Ltd said: "In partnership with Deforche Construct we are delighted to be awarded this prestigious project to design and build a high tech plant facility for the Royal Parks. The glasshouse will use the highly versatile unique Cabrio structure which will enable the site area to be utilised to its maximum."
While the new nursery is being built, a small nursery in The Regent's Park will be used. Once the Hyde Park 'super nursery' is up and running, The Regent's Park facility will close. TRP will then look at the future use of this site with expressions of interest being sought from next year.
The new nursery is expected to be operational by summer 2017.
Photo caption: Chief Executive, Andrew Scattergood and Head of Special Projects, Steve Edwards on the demolition site of the old 1960s nursery in Hyde Park