Walthamstow Reservoir is being transformed into a distinctive urban wetland nature reserve and centre for learning that is unprecedented in size in London. Recast as Walthamstow Wetlands, the site will open in 2017 and give visitors free access to its natural, industrial and social heritage in one of the capital’s most diverse and populous urban areas.
The ten reservoirs that make up this 211 hectare site are nationally and internationally recognised as significant for wildlife, particularly overwintering wildfowl. They constitute the largest fishery in London and will continue to be an operational water supply site for Thames Water.
The £8.7M project is being led by the London Borough of Waltham Forest in partnership with Thames Water and key stakeholders including Environment Agency, Natural England and the Greater London Authority. £4.47 million has been secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund in addition to £3.7M contributed by the partners. This funding is supplemented by in kind contributions for maintenance and volunteering costs.
London Wildlife Trust is delivering the Walthamstow Wetlands project and will be responsible for conserving and enhancing the site’s wildlife and heritage. The Trust has developed a programme of public engagement activities including formal and informal learning, volunteering and training.
The project is currently in the construction phase which includes renovation of the locally listed, Victorian Engine House into a visitor centre, café and multifunctional education space; introduction of a viewing platform in the Grade II listed Coppermill Tower; and four new entrances at Forest Road, Lockwood Way and Coppermill Lane, which will be linked by a 1.7km new foot and cycle path. Habitat enhancement work includes 2 hectares of reed beds introduced in reservoirs 1,2 and 3 and new planting.
Walthamstow Wetlands was the winner of the 2012 London Planning Awards under the ‘Best Conceptual Project’ category. In giving out the award the Mayor referred to the Wetlands as ‘London’s best kept secret’.
Watch this video about London Wildlife Trust’s public consultation prior to the project’s development.
About London Wildlife Trust
London Wildlife Trust is a charity dedicated to protecting the capital’s wildlife and wild spaces and engaging London’s diverse communities through access to our nature reserves, campaigning, volunteering and outdoor learning. London Wildlife Trust has worked hard for many years to generate interest and support for the Walthamstow Wetlands project and we are very proud to see this wonderful site being improved for wildlife and opened up for local people’s enjoyment, free of charge.
The story of London Wildlife Trust is one of volunteers, staff, and local people working tirelessly to protect the capital’s special natural spaces from development and mismanagement. Since its formation in 1981 London Wildlife Trust has helped shape the face of London. Fantastic wildlife sites – which would have fallen under bricks and mortar – have been saved and looked after for the public to enjoy, including iconic sites like Sydenham Hill Wood, Stoke Newington Reservoirs and Camley Street Natural Park.
The Trust was started by a few passionate and forward-thinking activists in 1981 declaring that people in the capital had the ‘right to share our environment with nature and wildlife.’ Since its first beginnings, London Wildlife Trust has grown significantly as a movement, encouraging Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to love and cherish their natural environment. London Wildlife Trust continues to influence the actions and policies of local government, other organisations, local communities and thousands of individuals.
London Wildlife Trust has always relied on dedicated volunteers and interns to help protect and enhance London’s rich ecology. We feel that properly planned and managed voluntary internships are a useful chance for people to gain experience in wildlife conservation and community engagement and regularly lead to paid work in the sector. We take pains to ensure that volunteer interns do not simply substitute for paid staff: there is a clear role description; internships are part time, normally limited to three months and will be offered formal training. We actively recruit through diverse channels and we reimburse travel and other expenses.
Image of Great crested grebe at Walthamstow Wetlands by Penny Dixie