A HISTORIC grotto could be one step closer to restoration as a survey on it is to be carried out later this year.

The grotto, in Wanstead Park, has been left to ruin after suffering a fire in the late 19th century.

But a spokeswoman for the City of London Corporation, which looks after the park, has confirmed the survey is to be carried out, followed by preparatory work ahead of possible restoration.

No firm plans are yet in place but the Corporation is currently seeking input from local groups to help maintain the grotto and park.

Extensive excavation and temporary restoration works have been carried out since the 1990s but the Corporation is now looking at making more permanent repairs.

The spokeswoman said: “The City of London plans to carry out a further survey to check the condition of the grotto later this year and when it does, it will minimize any disturbance caused to wildlife within the perimeter fence.

“Preparatory work will be done before any major restoration work is undertaken.”

She added that funds are being raised and a review is to take place for the Corporation’s 'Wanstead Park Conservation Plan.'

This is set to become an updated ‘Conservation Management Plan’, aimed at providing a “sound basis for the future management of the public park and its buildings”.

Local landowners including the council, Wanstead Sports and Golf Club and the parish church are also expected to be brought on board in future restoration plans.

Formerly part of the grounds of Wanstead House, which was pulled down in the early 19th century, the grotto was once thought to be among the finest examples of 18th century landscape gardening in the UK.

Campaign group the Wanstead Parklands Community Project, which works to promote understanding of the park’s heritage, has been vocally in favour of restoring the grotto and park.

Richard Arnopp, a member of the campaign group, said: "We are very pleased by the Corporation's announcement, and hope the planned survey will mark the beginning of the grotto's rebirth from its present state of sad, overgrown dereliction.

"Wanstead Park is a historic landscape of national importance, but also a much valued local amenity."