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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 brings 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.

HLF Trustee and former Chief Scientist at Natural England Dr Tom Tew said, “We loved this partnership project and so are pleased to be helping to make it happen. High quality green space is at a premium in our cities, and once completed this wetland area will provide the perfect nature spot for millions of Londoners to relax in and enjoy.

“Reservoirs are of course vital in providing water to our homes – and this primary function is maintained – but they can also make great green spaces providing countless benefits for wildlife and visitors alike.”

PHOTO: An artist’s impression of Walthamstow Wetlands as it will look when the funding is invested.


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