21 Mar 2017
Many people feel a connection to the UK's Royal Parks, whether they go to concerts, run or cycle or head there for family picnics. It's the job of Greg McErlean MRICS to balance people’s different needs and desires, which sometimes clash.
I’ve been with the Royal Parks since 1997 and I’m really lucky to work in this environment. My office is right in the middle of Hyde Park, in the Old Police House. I look after the larger projects for Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Green Park, Kensington Gardens and St James’s Park in central London, and the Brompton Cemetery in Kensington, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park and Bushey Park.
Manging projects after funding cutbacks
I get involved in running major projects that are more difficult to fund and big events, from the Olympics to our regular concert events. One of the challenges in recent years has been managing projects and events during funding cutbacks. We were heavily hit by the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review but we worked hard to secure efficiencies and open up new public services that generate income, such as galleries and cafes. Most of the funding shortfall has come from these, from revenue from events, and grants.
There are three chartered surveyors on our team: myself as a quantity surveyor, a rural practice surveyor and a general practice surveyor, plus three more doing their accreditation. I started out in Northern Ireland on painting and decorating contracts. I couldn’t face doing that for long so got a job with English Heritage. It was a fantastic opportunity to help look after historic sites and contribute to their survival and my heart has been in conservation ever since.
Work on a pioneering project
We put a huge amount of work into projects and events but it’s wonderful when it all comes to fruition and you see people enjoying themselves. One of the projects I’m most proud of is the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. It was a pioneering project because we were reintroducing the concept of risk into play areas, which has now been adopted as standard. At the time – the playground opened in 2000 – there was a lot of concern about children being overprotected and prevented from learning how to keep themselves safe. When we built the wooden galleon, we didn’t smooth the splinters, nor reduce the height of the bowsprit in case a child fell off it. It has been a great success.
The fun side of the job is getting to many of the events, sometimes in an official capacity. In 2013 I ended up in the grandstand singing and dancing to the Rolling Stones with invited VIPs including the then mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Great British Buildings: Restoration of the Year
Channel 4 has announced the commission of an exciting new series, 'Great British Buildings: Restoration of the Year', from Chocolate Media.
The series features projects entered into the RICS Awards and the series will be made in collaboration with RICS, who will judge the projects.
Find out more
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