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Funding wildlife conservation and free public access to Walthamstow Wetlands

Engine House at Walthamstow Wetlands

As we head towards opening, with much of the building work making good progress, we are also working on bringing in new revenue that will allow us to continue funding wildlife conservation and free public access into the coming years.

As at many other large-scale nature reserves, this will include a mix of private and public events, which we hope will make Walthamstow Wetlands self-sustaining. As part of this mix, we aim to offer a carefully controlled programme of private events, such as weddings and conferences, in the beautiful and newly restored Engine House visitor centre.

This will require a Premises Licence, which we have recently applied for, so that we can sell alcohol and provide entertainment, such as music, in the Engine House and its immediate surroundings.

We would like to reassure those who may be concerned about the application for a Premises Licence that Walthamstow Wetlands is first and foremost a nature reserve, based around ten statutory reservoirs. It is a site that has significant legal protection as it mostly designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), situated within an internationally important Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site.

The reserve is being designed and managed to ensure the needs of wildlife are respected and where possible further strengthened. The birds on site at Walthamstow Wetlands have been carefully monitored on behalf of Natural England over the course of the last three years to gauge any potential effects of the development works. So far there seems to have been no direct effect and this monitoring will continue, with all management and operations subject to annual review. Other species on site, such as bats, small mammals and invertebrates, are also being monitored on an ongoing basis.

As we move forward, it will be essential for the Walthamstow Wetlands team to cover the considerable costs of running such a large nature reserve and of providing free public access, so that visitors can continue to experience and enjoy nature, at the same time ensuring that this does not adversely impact the wildlife here. Entrance will be free, but we will raise funds with a shop and a café, and while we hope to offer some free activities we will also charge for a variety of events – such as guided walks and talks, conservation training, photography workshops and art classes – alongside private events at the Engine House.

Events which include the sale of alcohol and/or associated music will be restricted to the main visitor centre, the Engine House, and its immediate surroundings. This area is situated away from the more sensitive areas of the nature reserve and is outside of the SSSI, although it does fall within the SSSI Impact Risk Zone. Outside of normal opening hours, attendees will be restricted to the visitor centre and immediate surroundings, which will be closed off from the rest of the nature reserve. Music and alcohol consumption will be restricted to 10pm when outside the Engine House, and completely prohibited after midnight. All such events, and the frequency of such events, will be tightly controlled and monitored, to restrict any disturbance to wildlife and our neighbours.

If you wish to make a representation to the Licensing Service regarding this application please note that any such representations must be received no later than 14th August 2017. Representations can be made by post or email, see below.

Application for a Premises Licence

Licensing Act 2003: Application for the Grant of a Premises Licence

Notice of application for the grant of a Premises Licence under section 17 of the Licensing Act 2003.

Notice is hereby given that LBWF – Culture & Heritage Services Dept has applied to the London Borough of Waltham Forest for the grant of a Premises Licence at,  Walthamstow Wetlands, 2 Forest Road, London, N17 9NH .

The application seeks to permit the following:

  • Sale of alcohol for consumption, Late night refreshment on & off premises:  Mon to Sun 10:00 to 24:00
  • Recorded & Live music, Dance and anything similar,  Plays, Films, Performances on & off premises:

Mon -Sun 10:00-24:00

  • Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10:00- 24:00

The Licensing register listing full details of the application is kept by the Licensing Service, Sycamore House, Walthamstow Town Hall, Forest Road, Walthamstow E17 4SU. The application may be viewed Monday to Friday between the hours of 9am – 5pm (except Bank Holidays).

Any person wishing to make a representation in respect of the above activities may do so in writing to the Licensing Service, Sycamore House, Waltham Forest Town Hall, Forest Road, London E17 4SU or via email

Representations must be received no later than 14th August 2017.

It is an offence to knowingly or recklessly make a false statement in connection with this application. A person is liable to an unlimited fine on conviction should such a false statement be made.

London Wildlife Trust are recruiting at Walthamstow Wetlands

Reservoir No.3 at Walthamstow Wetlands

Reservoir No.3 at Walthamstow Wetlands

Fancy a job with a view? 

When Walthamstow Wetlands opens in September 2017, it will be one of the largest urban wetlands nature reserves in Europe (211 hectares).

If you would like to play a role in this unique ground breaking project, London Wildlife Trust are currently recruiting for three new positions : 

Reservoir No.3 at Walthamstow Wetlands

When Walthamstow Wetlands opens fully to the public in September 2017, the 211 hectare nature reserve will be a major new international visitor attraction, with a fantastic new visitor centre, in a renovated Victorian engine house, that will house a spectacular and interactive permanent exhibition, temporary exhibitions, cafe, events space, viewing platform and classroom facilities.

If you would like to play a role in this unique and ground breaking, £8.7m project, Waltham Forest Council are currently recruiting for three exciting new positions (closing date Wednesday 21st June 2017): 

Walthamstow Wetlands, will be one of the largest urban wetlands nature reserves in Europe (211 hectares, the site is 2 miles long and 1 mile wide).

This vast nature reserve in North-East London, has many picturesque landscapes and peaceful views, as well as an architectural heritage of impressive and historic listed buildings and the vestiges of handsome Victorian landscaping and civil engineering.

As well as providing habitats for abundantly diverse wildlife, Walthamstow Wetlands is also home to an internationally important population of resident, rare and migratory birds.

Topping out ceremony for new swift tower marks major milestone for Walthamstow Wetlands.

Press Release: 28th April 2017

A topping out ceremony held on 28 April celebrated the newly built swift tower at the Walthamstow Wetlands. This marks a significant milestone in the development of one of the largest urban wetland nature reserves in Europe.

The £8.7million project will open Thames Water’s Walthamstow Reservoirs to the public, providing free access to the 211 hectare Wetlands for residents and visitors to enjoy. This has been possible thanks to a £4.47million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, in addition to £3.7million contributed by partners.

Waltham Forest Council lead the project in partnership with Thames Water, who own and manage the site, and London Wildlife Trust, who will deliver the operational phase through an extensive programme of learning and community engagement, including conservation and site volunteering. The Walthamstow Wetlands will open to the public in autumn 2017.

A topping out ceremony celebrates a new structure reaching its maximum height. At the Walthamstow Wetlands, this is the roof of the new swift tower built on the locally listed Victorian Engine House – one of two historic buildings being renovated on the site.

The Engine House, built in 1894, will transform into a visitor centre with a café, exhibition and events space, education room, and viewing terrace. The swift tower replaces the original industrial chimney demolished in the 1950s. The new 24-metre Swift Tower includes 54 specially installed swift nest boxes to attract urban swifts. The interior also includes a snug roost for bats.

A viewing platform is under construction in the Grade II listed Coppermill Tower, offering some stunning views over the reservoirs and across London.

Cllr Clare Coghill, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and High Streets said: “The topping out ceremony is an important milestone in the development of the Walthamstow Wetlands, and I am pleased that we were able to mark it with some of the people who are working so hard to deliver the project. The excitement is building now and we are looking forward to opening up the Wetlands so that everyone can enjoy the stunning wildlife and industrial heritage that exists on the site.”

Ten separate reservoirs make up the Walthamstow Wetlands. The site will continue to be operational for Thames Water, supplying 500 million litres of water daily to around 1.5 million people across North East London.

Richard Aylard, Director of External Affairs and Sustainability at Thames Water said: “It’s exciting that we’re going to be able to share such a wonderful space with the public, while still using it to supply water to so many people across north London. With the developments to the engine house and the tower, the transformation is really taking shape and it’s great to see the project progressing so well.”

Gordon Scorer, Chief Executive of London Wildlife Trust said: “It’s fantastic to see the new swift tower rising some 24m into the sky, providing multi-storey accommodation for the swifts that migrate here every year from Africa. These amazing birds can spend up to 10 months on the wing, never touching ground while feeding on insects, mating and even sleeping in the air. Numbers have been declining dramatically, so it’s really important for us to provide a safe place for them to nest and raise their young when they reach the Wetlands – and the Swift Tower should do the job nicely.”

Walthamstow Wetlands is highly important for biodiversity, and in particular a wide range of bird life. Because of its bird populations, Walthamstow Wetlands is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), RAMSAR, and Special Protection Area (SPA) of local, national and international importance.

The Wetlands are home to an internationally important population of birds including peregrine falcons – the fastest bird on earth, capable of reaching speeds of 200mph as well as lots of other wildlife including many types of fish, water voles, bats, grass snakes, newts, butterflies, damselflies, dragonflies.

Walthamstow Weltands by Rachel Smith

We are inviting local schools and community groups to take part in this exciting new art competition. The winning entries will be displayed in the new visitor centre at Walthamstow Wetlands, one of the largest urban wetlands nature reserves in Europe!

An art installation is currently being developed as a centrepiece for the visitor centre. We are launching this competition as part of our community engagement programme to enable local school children and community groups to have their artwork displayed in the beautifully restored Engine House, where it will be viewed by large numbers of visitors.

Walthamstow Reservoirs in Waltham Forest are currently being transformed into a distinctive urban wetland nature reserve and centre for learning that is unprecedented in size in London. Walthamstow Wetlands will open in September 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.

Local children and community groups can be part of this historic site by designing part of a water and life sculpture which will hang from the café roof and be the centrepiece of the new visitor centre.

Image credit Greg MorganWhat’s involved?

The installation will comprise 150 large glass jars. Over the first half of the summer term we are asking  school children and local people to develop design ideas for the jars based on the wildlife, industrial heritage or water supply aspects of the site. We would like the artwork to be inspired by the site and have special meaning for the artist. For example, if you have fished on-site you could make a 3D model fish or if you love the ducks and geese, a jar could be filled with feathers collected from the site. Alternatively you may want to draw a picture of some leaves or the reservoirs that can be displayed within the jar. The paper designs will be judged over half-term and the top 150 entries will be given jars to realise their designs over the second half of the summer term.

Remember this is an art competition, so the more creative and inspirational the ideas the better!

How do we get involved?
Register your school or community group by sending an email to Rachel Smith, Walthamstow Wetlands Community Engagement Officer at

We can also arrange a visit to your school assembly or group hub to inspire you with images from the site as part of our community engagement programme. Let us know if you are interested in this in your registration email. Please download the design brief here. The submission date for the initial paper designs is Friday 26th May 2017.

Water and life sculpture resource pack Water and life sculpture resource pack[/caption]

Hedgehog sighting raises hopes of London comeback

Hedgehog at Walthamstow Wetlands. Credit: Penny Dixie

Press release: 6th September 2016

Hedgehogs have virtually disappeared from many parts of London – so any sighting at all is something to be celebrated. The discovery of one of these iconic spikey mammals in east London’s Lee Valley has now raised hopes that local populations can be sustained.

The unmistakable ball of spines was found among the reservoirs which, thanks to a partnership between London Wildlife Trust, Waltham Forest Council and Thames Water, are transforming into a new nature reserve due to open next year as Walthamstow Wetlands. The large, healthy male is only the fourth hedgehog recorded in Waltham Forest in the last five years.

A ranger for the Trust, Charlie Owens, was leading a bat walk when another nocturnal mammal made a surprise appearance. He said: “As we were sitting there filling in data there was an unmistakable rustle among the willow leaf litter. I grabbed my torch and went into the trees to search for the culprit. And there he was, sitting happily munching on an unfortunate worm. In mild disbelief at our luck we were able to pick him up and get a closer look… and smell.”

Ten years ago there were an estimated three million hedgehogs in the UK, and 60 years ago there were believed to be 30 million. But numbers have since dropped to less than one million, and these iconic animals have virtually disappeared from large parts of London – particularly central areas. Hedgehogs are classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) and at their current rate of decline, 5% per year, it is estimated they could be extinct in much of Britain by 2025.

Mathew Frith, London Wildlife Trust’s Director of Conservation, said: “Spotting a hedgehog at Walthamstow Wetlands is a great find and highlights the need for a comprehensive survey around the reservoirs and within the Lee Valley, so we can establish exactly how many there are and what measures we should take to protect them. Records of hedgehog within central London are very scant, with Regent’s Park hosting the only known breeding population. Unfortunately this location is now under threat from High Speed Two, making the protection of hedgehog populations even more important.”

While increasing traffic levels, expanding development, and fewer suitable garden habitats have played a big part in reducing the capital’s hedgehog numbers, it is not too late to reverse the trend. The creation of Walthamstow Wetlands has focused largely on enhancing habitat for migrating birds, but this week’s sighting shows that conservation efforts there will also play a crucial in supporting rare mammals such as hedgehog and water vole, as well as bats.

Images: Credit to Penny Dixie

Water works at Walthamstow Wetlands

Rachel Smith from London Wildlife Trust and Councillor Clare Coghill take to the water to survey the latest stage of work to transform Walthamstow Wetlands.

Press release: 1st December 2015

The latest stage of the transformation of Walthamstow Wetlands into the largest wetland nature reserve in London will see the creation of new reed beds to help preserve water quality and improve wildlife habitats.

The wetlands site will remains one of Thames Water’s biggest sources of supply for London’s drinking water and is the largest fishery in the city, as well as being a site of international importance for wildlife.

Councillor Clare Coghill, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and High Streets, visited the site on 30 November to witness the initial stages of the work to create new reed beds and islands.

“Preserving the delicate balance of biodiversity is central to this project,” said Cllr Coghill. “It’s really important that at the same time as encouraging more local residents to take advantage of this beautiful corner of the borough, we don’t lose sight of the fact this is home to a diverse range of wildlife.”

The project to transform the 200 hectare site will provide opportunities for accessing and learning about wildlife and nature conservation, walking, cycling, fishing, and enjoying the peace and tranquility of this unique space.

The project has been spearheaded by the Council, which secured £4.47m of funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund last year. They have further supplemented this with just over £1m, with another £1.84m from site owners Thames Water and £750,000 from the Greater London Authority.

The Wetlands will open to the public in Spring 2017, under the day-to-day management of the London Wildlife Trust. Once complete the project will include four new entrances, a new recreational cycling footpath, and free public access during the site’s opening hours.

Improved habitats will help nature conservation and the site’s industrial heritage will also be preserved, including restoration of a pumping station to house a visitor centre, café, exhibition space and educational space. The Grade II listed Coppermill Tower will house a new viewing platform.

Following a series of underwater surveys, Bioengineering specialists Salix are now constructing new revetments and re-using dredged silt to create 2.5 hectares of new reed beds. These beds will be filled with about 30,000m3 of material dredged from the reservoir. The works are expected to be completed by the end of March next year.

Richard Edwards, Business Development Manager for Salix, explains, “Reed beds provide an important habitat for a wide range of wetland wildlife, including mammals, invertebrates and birds such as reed bunting, reed warbler and bittern. They also help to clean the water by absorbing nutrients.”

Image shows Rachel Smith from London Wildlife Trust and Councillor Clare Coghill taking to the water to survey the latest stage of work to transform Walthamstow Wetlands.

Wetlands to Wetlands Greenway in Hackney wins £120,000 funding

Press release 26th March 2015

The Wetlands to Wetlands Greenway in Hackney will receive £120,000 from the Mayor of London after more than 1,700 people supported the project online.

Two new wetland wildlife reserves are being created by London Wildlife Trust at two Thames Water owned reservoirs at Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney and Walthamstow Wetlands in Waltham Forest. The two wetlands are just 3km apart, allowing the possibility of visitors to experience both sites in the same day.

The Wetland to Wetland project will be delivered by Hackney Council in partnership with LB Waltham Forest and London Wildlife Trust and aims to create a clearly-signed and greener route between the two sites and nearby public transport hubs (Manor House and Tottenham Hale) to create an enhanced visitor experience.

The project will include road safety improvements, streetscape enhancements and additional tree planting to create a new route through local parks and on quiet roads, to encourage access to both sites by foot and cycle.

By creating this new green corridor between two exciting new wetland destinations in north-east London, this project will bring people closer to the wonderful landscape of the Lea Valley and inspire local residents living in some of the most densely built neighbourhoods of London to venture outside, get active and explore the natural world.

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods said: “Hackney is thrilled that the Wetlands to Wetlands Greenway proposal we have been developing in partnership with Waltham Forest Council and the London Wildlife Trust has won funding from the Big Green Fund public poll. This scheme will create a new green corridor between the two new exciting wetland destinations in north-east London and provide a fantastic opportunity to bring people closer to the wonderful landscape of the Lea Valley and connect the thriving communities of north Hackney and Waltham Forest.”

David Mooney, Regional Development Manager- East London, London Wildlife Trust added: “ As reserve managers, everyone at London Wildlife Trust can’t wait to show visitors around these wonderful urban wetland nature reserves and signpost people along the new ‘Wetland to Wetland’ greenway route, avoiding all the heavy traffic along Seven Sisters Road”


For more information see Mayor’s press release: Seven green spaces to be transformed, thanks to Londoners’ show of support

For more media information, interviews or images please contact Ian Tokelove at London Wildlife Trust on 020 7803 4293 or

London Wildlife Trust is the only charity dedicated solely to protecting the capital’s wildlife and wild spaces, engaging London’s diverse communities through access to our nature reserves, campaigning, volunteering and education.

Map of the proposed Wetlands to Wetlands Greenway

Map of the proposed Wetlands to Wetlands Greenway

Waltham Forest wins £4.4m funding for Walthamstow Wetlands

The submission made by Waltham Forest Council for £4.4million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has been successful, allowing the Walthamstow Wetlands project to become a reality!

The announcement by HLF that the Council has secured the funding was made on 7th August 2014; bringing to fruition years of planning and work to see the creation of the largest urban wetland nature reserve in London.

The £4.4 million will help the Council achieve its vision to open up Walthamstow Reservoirs to the public, transforming the 200 hectare site into a unique landscape where people can experience open skies and waterscapes.

The opening up of Thames Water’s Walthamstow reservoirs to the public has long been a vision shared by the Council and the water company and this funding means that goal can now be achieved while remaining an integral part of the system that supplies water to millions of Londoners every day.

“This is fantastic news for the people of Waltham Forest and the wider East London community,” said Waltham Forest Council Leader Chris Robbins. “The borough is going through an unprecedented time of regeneration and our cultural offer is at the heart of that growth.

“The Blackhorse Lane area of the borough is one of the places where there’s a great deal of development going on with the old industrial units making way for new homes. We’re building a brand new school on one side of the station and this funding opens the way for the Wetlands to take shape on the other.”

The project has an overall value of £8m for capital works and revenue funding over five years, with Thames Water committing £1.84m to the project. Thames Water Chief Executive, Martin Baggs, said, “The Walthamstow reservoirs are vital in helping us to supply drinking water to millions of customers across London, so it’s fantastic that they can also double-up as a haven for wildlife and a place for people to enjoy the great outdoors.

“We’re proud to be working in partnership with Waltham Forest Council and the London Wildlife Trust on this important project, to create the largest urban wetland nature reserve in London. These improvements will really boost the wide range of opportunities currently on offer to anglers and the community in Walthamstow, and benefit the health and wellbeing, and quality of life, of all those who choose to use the facilities in the future.”

Last month planning permission and listed building consent was secured when the details of the project were presented to the Council’s Planning Committee. Works are due to commence next year with partial opening planned for 2016, and full opening planned for 2017.

London Wildlife Trust will undertake the day to day management of the site, enhancing habitats for a wide range of species whilst ensuring that visitor numbers do not adversely affect the site’s important wildlife. The Trust will encourage volunteering and active participation by local communities in the management and conservation of the site, and over 100 schools have expressed interest in visits and educational opportunities.

Carlo Laurenzi OBE, Chief Executive of London Wildlife Trust, said, “We are delighted to be at the heart of creating Europe’s largest urban wetland reserve. Walthamstow Wetlands is going to significantly benefit both wildlife and local communities, by providing space for nature to flourish and for visitors to relax and enjoy themselves within this impressive landscape.

“London Wildlife Trust will continue to work closely with local residents, current users of the site and partner organisations to enhance the site’s wildlife and to improve the public’s experience and understanding of wildlife and nature.”

There will be four new entrances and foot and cycle pathways through the site as part of the scheme, with free public access during the site’s opening hours. Improved habitats to support the nature conservation value of the site have also been factored in, as has preservation of the site’s industrial heritage, including restoration of a locally listed pumping station to house a visitor centre, café, exhibition space, viewing terrace and educational space.

Main image by Greg Morgan