A grant of nearly £1.5m has been awarded to The Royal Parks so its Isabella Plantation project, in Richmond Park, can be made more accessible.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (Big) investment grant was announced this morning to the delight of The Royal Parks.

Royal Parks chief executive Linda Lennon CBE said: “This is fantastic news for the long term sustainability of the Isabella Plantation and the hundreds of thousands of people who come to enjoy its beauty.”

News of the lottery grant will make it possible for Richmond Park to continue with plans to make improvements to the 17.5ha Isabella Plantation woodland garden to make it easier to navigate with a new network of accessible paths, a fully accessible toilet block and shelter.

The grant will also help fund the resurfacing of the disabled car park and introduction of sustainable solutions to heating, lighting and power such as using locally sourced wood and an irrigation system to harvest water from the park’s natural supply.

The plantation, which is home to a vast collection of azaleas and rhododendrons and attracts more than 300,000 visitors a year, will also use some of the money to continue working with community groups and partners to develop more activities and resources for visitors and increase educational and volunteer activities on offer.

Wesley Kerr, London chairman for the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "The Isabella Plantation is an unusually beautiful place in an unusually beautiful space.

“Richmond Park is the biggest in London and has given pleasure and recreation to millions over the centuries.

“We are delighted that this award will increase biodiversity, add to the exquisite collections of rare plants and make this magical place accessible for everyone.”

In addition to the lottery grant the Royal Parks have also been given £120,000 from the Sita Trust, an independent funding body set up in 1997 to provide funding through the Landfill Communities Fund, for a ponds and streams part of the plantation improvement project.

Overall the complete project is expected to cost about £1.8m and will also include elements such as employing two dedicated 18-month horticultural apprentices and creating more varied conditions and diversified plant communities with improved habitats for resident species.