Features Leyton

Volunteers hope to buy Leyton a new public park

Peter Mudge on the next stage of the East London Waterworks Park
By Waltham Forest Echo

Members of the ELWP team (credit: Jonathan Perugia/Gaia Visual)
Members of the ELWP team (credit: Jonathan Perugia/Gaia Visual)

At a time when green space is at a premium, a group of volunteers are raising money to create a new public park. The “East London Waterworks Park” is an ambitious plan to turn an under-used depot in Lea Bridge Road into a “brownfield rainforest”.

We have lots of exciting plans for what we want to create – including a nature reserve, wild swimming and a Forest School – and have made it clear to the current owners that we are interested in acquiring the site. Now though, we have to demonstrate we can raise enough money to be taken seriously and quickly – before a developer tries to get in ahead of us!

An artists’ impression of the planned park (credit: ELWP)

You may not be familiar with the land, which can be glimpsed from the top deck of a 55 or 56 bus but is closed to the public. Just opposite the Lee Valley Ice Centre, it would have been a very busy place a hundred years ago, when it was owned by the East London Waterworks Company, with several large buildings and a miniature railway for transporting sand. In those days, it was known as the Essex No.1 Filter Beds, tasked with purifying water from the River Lea for the new homes springing up all over North-East London. In the 1970s, when filtration moved to a new site in Coppermill Lane, the waterworks were closed down and, since then, the land has been used as a storage depot by Thames Water.

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Nothing much happened until a few years ago, when it was sold by Thames Water to the Department of Education. The Government had hoped to build two free schools but their planning application was turned down by Waltham Forest Council. At a loss, they are now looking to sell, which is where we come in.

This won’t be our first experience fundraising to make our dream a reality. Last year, we launched an appeal for £30,000 to help us shape our plans and were astonished at how quickly we were able to raise the sum; clearly the East London Waterworks Park is an idea that appeals to many people. This time around, however, we need to raise a much bigger sum: £3million! Since we don’t expect to raise all that in one go, we’ve set our initial target at a more modest £500,000.

Find out more and donate to the fundraiser here

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