THE condition of an 'at risk' ancient park has deteriorated rapidly since its owners postponed a bid for refurbishment cash.
Grade II-listed Wanstead Park, which was mentioned in Domesday Book and used for hunting by Henry VIII, was placed on an English Heritage list of historical sites being neglected in 2009.
But landowner City of London Corporation backed out of a bid for Lottery funding last year over fears about the long-term cost of the proposals.
And now English Heritage have upgraded the park's at-risk status, assessing it as having ‘extensive problems’ with a ‘high vulnerability’.
Secretary of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands, Richard Arnopp, said there has been gradual, long-term deterioration of the park's condition in recent months and fears for its future.
He said plants and trees have become overgrown, causing views of ornate lakes and paths to be blocked and there has been an increase in litter and general neglect.
“The park has hit rock bottom, it can't get any worse," he added.
“It's general condition is now very poor, we hope this will be a wake up call to the owners. The time has come where something really has to be done.
“There are many historic features in the park, such as the Grotto, which need to be maintained and saved.
“We care about the park and we do everything that is possible to try to bring about a situation where it becomes the attractive local feature that we want it to be.”
English Heritage and the Corporation have commissioned an assessment of the state of the park, providing hope that action will be taken to preserve it.
Mr Arnopp added: “We hope that once this information is collected they will knuckle down and get things done.”
The group will provide 50 days of volunteer time for the project.
An English Heritage spokeswoman said: “English Heritage is committed to reducing the number of sites at risk as a result of neglect, decay and inappropriate development and therefore wants to help owners find practical and affordable ways of safeguarding their future.”
A Corporation spokesman said: “The City of London Corporation welcomes the support of English Heritage in pursuing this important assessment.
“We are also funding a paralell hydrological study to examine the future viability of the Wanstead Park Lake system.”