26 February 2015

Feedback Fortnight and other stuff...

Feedback Fortnight

Thanks to @simonraper1 for the heads up on this. The City of London Corporation and the Friends of Wanstead Park are looking for comments on the "future of Wanstead Park" and inviting the public to have their say. I assumed this would include the flats, but no we don't have any friends.

Any way in replying to Simon and Wanstead Parklands I said they wouldn't like my input (re habitat destruction etc.) which prompted this reply from WP: "No intention to trash it all! There is likely to be some habitat loss, but also habitat gain.  Wait and see". I have been informed of some positive measures that may or may not happen, but with regards to the first part of the reply which sounds slightly ambiguous.  "No intention to trash it all!" -do they feel they've done too much by mistake? "There islikely to be some habitat loss.." - what more?

Then I had a look at what was proposed



"Wanstead Park is a nationally important historic landscape created around Wanstead House during the 17th to 19th centuries. While the mansion was demolished in 1823, much of its associated landscape survives under four ownerships and is registered at Grade II* - meaning it is a particularly important park and garden of more than special interest - on English Heritage’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.

Since 2009, Wanstead Park has been included in the English Heritage ‘Heritage at Risk’ register
due to concerns that the designed landscape was in poor condition, divided under separate ownership and management, and at risk of further decline."

Two paragaphs in and I don't like the way this heading already...

The Parkland Plan offers the following vision for Wanstead Park:

“Wanstead Park is London’s greatest surviving historic waterscape and one of the country’s most spectacular and ambitiously-designed 17th and early 18th century landscapes. It has the potential to become one of the finest parks in East London -- a unique and stunning landscape combining a sense of wilderness, tranquillity and experience of nature with spaces for fun, entertainment and getting active outdoors. A revitalised Wanstead Park could reveal and celebrate the many unique aspects of its special landscape, welcoming all local people and visitors from further afield.”

It has the potential to become one of the finest parks in East London? Not setting the bar very high then.  Sadly it is one, if not the only one, of the finest parks in East London. Wilderness (as in barren) is the standard of the others.  Tranquil only when it's empty, Christmas Day is usually good.

Individual projects may include:
  1. Restoring the Park’s former landscape unity through coordinated management by the separate ownerships
  2. Improving water management to reduce calls upon scarce aquifer abstraction
  3. Re-lining Heronry Pond to stop water leaks
  4. Providing catering facilities at The Temple
  5. Revealing the shape of the historic water bodies
  6. Improving entrances and better surfaced paths throughout
  7. Enhancing the Park’s biodiversity heritage through the management of its ancient trees, woodland, grassland and water bodies
  8. Promoting research into the Park, its history, management and biodiversity
  9. Restoring views and revealing historic features
  10. Conserving The Grotto as an ‘accessible ruin’.
Point one will be a major sticking point - Wanstead Golf Club, I can imagine how eager they will be to share their greens with all local people and visitors from further afield (and their dogs!).

2. Improving water management: I can see the cost of pumping water from Thames Water's boreholes could be a drain (no pun intended) on resources, but little or no water is pumped from under London for consumption due to it's poor quality. And point 3 is where the problem lies: Heronry leaks like a sieve. More of a problem would be the likelihood of subsidence along its southern edge where it leaves the lake and if it were allowed to continue.

4. Catering facilities at the Temple, a sure fire threat to the Little Tea Shop of Happiness, but a way for the Corp. to make some money!

5. Revealing the shape of the historic water bodies. No thanks they are ugly enough, what we want is to see less behind reeds and restricted access

6. Improving entrances and better surfaced paths throughout. Not one of the Corporation's strongest suits judging by the mud tracks we have since their last improvements

7. Enhancing the Park’s biodiversity heritage through the management of its ancient trees, woodland, grassland and water bodies. Much of the heritage biodiversity has gone: bring back a Rookery, Heronry, Willow and Marsh Tit, breeding Barn Owl, Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and we can start talking

The remaining points are of a historical note and are all well and good per se, but are you going to try an re-instate Watling Street as a great historical attraction? No and why?  Too much disturbance of human culture, easier to dig up a field, wood, marsh or lake for the sake of history. 

Priority projects

Additional Partner Organisations include:
Wanstead Sports Grounds Ltd., Environment Agency, London Borough of Waltham Forest,
London Borough of Newham

  • 1A. Create a unified Plan for Wanstead Park: Complete a plan for the management and restoration of Wanstead Park which secures the support of the four landowners – City of London; Wanstead Sports Grounds Association; Wanstead Parish and the London Borough of Redbridge (with tenants).
  • 1B. Water catchment management: Improve sustainable drainage to all Lakes to reduce abstraction pressure on scare aquifer abstraction from the Groundwater Protection Zone that encompasses the Park.
  • 1C. Restore Heronry Pond: Re-line pond to stop water leaks; restore channels and islands on southern edge; introduce new wetland and marginal habitats along edges of pond and islands.
  • 1D. Create a visitor hub at The Temple: Retrofit building for visitor, café and community uses; restore former pond and introduce new planting to re-create former Menagerie garden.
  • 1E. Conserve The Grotto: Consolidate remains and make accessible as a ruin, and introduce new planting to improve setting.
  • 1F. Reveal vista along Long Walk: Restore view between Mansion Site and Ornamental Waters; clear vegetation along park/golf course boundary and introduce ‘see-through’ fencing to allow visibility between different park ownerships.
  • 1G. Open up other views between the Park and Golf Course: Selectively clear vegetation along sections of the Park and Golf Course boundary and introduce ‘see-through’ fencing to allow visibility between different park ownerships.
  • 1H. Reveal Mansion site: Introduce signage and interpretation; selectively clear vegetation to open up views.
  • 1I. Reveal North Mount (Warren Wood) and South Mount (Chalet Wood): Selectively clear vegetation to reveal form and shape of designed earthworks in Chalet Wood and Warren Wood; carry out archaeological investigation, restore profile (as necessary) and improve accessibility.
  • 1J. Reveal The Fortifications: Selectively clear vegetation and dredge and clear channels to reveal shape ofdesigned islands within Ornamental Water; carry out archaeological investigation and restore profile (as necessary).
  • 1K. Improve paths and access within the Park: Improve main routes from entrances to The Temple and The Grotto; adjust levels around Tea Hut to enable removal of access ramp; re-instate former bridge across Ornamental Water at The Grotto.
  • 1L. Improve all main entrances to the Park: Clear vegetation to open up views; introduce new and improved signage and interpretation; improve path surfaces.
  • 1M. Improve access to Wanstead Golf Course: Formalise permissive, waymarked route from Overton Drive past Mansion site andthrough to Warren Road entrance.
  • 1O. Improve connections with St Mary’s Church: Improve churchyard entrance on Overton Drive as a park entrance; introduce path through churchyard into Golf Course and at Mansion Site.
  • 1P. Improve access and wayfinding from surrounding areas:
    1. From Wanstead Golf Club to Warren Road entrance
    2. To/from Wanstead Underground station
    3. To/from Leytonstone Underground & Leytonstone High Road Overground station
    4. To/from Wanstead Park Overground station
    5. To/from Manor Park station
    6. To/from Ilford and areas west of the River Roding, incl. Coronation Bridge
    7. Investigate potential connections to Roding Valley Way cycle route
    8. Investigate potential connections with Redbridge Underground station via
    9. Eastern Avenue Pumping Station, with new bridge over River Roding and potential parking.
Other items which may form part of the priority projects and which may be progressed through improved management and maintenance and volunteer projects include:

  • 1Q. Improve the integrity and appearance of the historic water bodies: Selectively clear vegetation to open up views and access to water; remove vegetation and fallen trees to re-define edges; manage invasive aquatic species.
  • 1R. Reveal islands in Perch Pond: selectively clear vegetation and dredge and clear channels to reveal shape of designed islands; carry out archaeological investigation and restore profile (as necessary).
  • 1S. Management of The Plain: Manage western area for recreation, and eastern area for nature conservation, including selective removal of encroaching trees and scrub to enhance the acid grassland habitat.
  • 1T. Conserve veteran trees and historic avenues: develop and carry out specialist management.
  • 1U. Improve links with the River Roding: selectively clear vegetation to open up views and access to the river.
  • 1V. Introduce Children’s Play: consider ‘natural play’ opportunities within the Park. 

Longer term priorities
  • 2A. Improve vista along Long Walk: Undertake vegetation clearance to reveal mature trees along edges of Long Walk within park and introduce new understorey planting to create formal edge to woodland; introduce feature as eye-catcher.
  • 2B. Reveal Great Mount: Selectively clear vegetation to reveal form and shape of designed earthworks of the Great Mount on south side of Heronry Pond; carry out archaeological investigation, restore profile (as necessary) and improve accessibility.
  • 2C. Restore views: Clear vegetation in Chalet Wood and Warren Wood to open up lost historic views between key features.
  • 2D. Improve paths and access within the Park: Around The Plain (resurface in gravel) and along both sides of the Ornamental Water from The Grotto to the Amphitheatre and The Fortifications (push back woodland edge to establish grass on both sides of path and resurface in gravel).
  • 2E. Improve all remaining entrances to the Park: Clear vegetation to open up views; introduce new and improved signage and interpretation; improve path surfaces.
  • 2F. Interpret the American Garden: Use ornamental planting to reflect the former American Garden in this part of the Golf Course.
  • 2G. Improve access and wayfinding from surrounding areas:
    1. Introduce connections to Roding Valley Way and Quietway cycle routes
    2. Introduce links via Eastern Avenue Pumping Station.
  • 2H. Improvements to boundaries: Remove or replace boundary fencing and railings as they come to the end of their design life, using designs appropriate for the character and appearance of the landscape. 
Other items which may form park of the longer term priorities and which may be progressed through improved management and volunteer projects include:
  • 2I. Improve access and interpretation in Wanstead Golf Course: clear vegetation to open up vista between Mansion site and Long Walk; open up the cricket club car park to Park visitors.
  • 2J. mproving internal views: remove redundant fencing; thinning and managing vegetation along boundaries.
  • 2K. Management of The Dell: develop management proposals to create wet woodland habitat. [It is already!]
  • 2L. Management of The Plain: introduce grazing to enhance the acid grassland habitat.
  • 2M. Management of Bush Wood: manage vegetation along rides in Bush Wood to open up views along former quincunx avenues – a five pointed geometric pattern of tree planting.

Possible aspirations
  • 3A. Further development of the visitor hub at The Temple, Expansion of café venue with associated community uses - oriented towards Menagerie Pond and Temple and on historic axis with Ornamental Water.
  • 3B. Restore avenues: Clear corridor through Chalet Wood to restore view and axis between The Temple area and Ornamental Water (linked with proposals for a potential new structure at The Temple ‘hub’); reinstate avenue planting near Shoulder of Mutton Pond.
  • 3C. Reveal historic features: Potential selective thinning of vegetation to create focal points on bluebell walk to interpret former clearings and features, e.g. using site-won timber from tree clearance to create a labyrinth on the site of the former maze.
  • 3D. Restore views: Restore paths and views through The Grove to the Ornamental Water along lines of former patte d’oie avenues – radiating paths in the shape of a goose’s foot.
  • 3E. Improve paths and access within Park: Around remaining parts of the Ornamental Water and along the southern edge of the Park (resurface in gravel and widen in places) and within Bush Woods; re-align track from Warren Road to Temple.
  • 3F. Interpret Repton Parterre: Use formal planting in this part of the Golf Course to reflect the former early 19th Century parterre garden by Humphrey Repton.
  • 3G. Restore vista to The Basin: Re-locate tennis courts off main axis from the Mansion site to The Basin and restore view; replace boundary fencing along Overton Drive.
  • 3H. Improvements to parking: Potential extension of Warren Road car park up to line of Long Walk (if there is a need for increased parking provision).
By this time, on-going management and maintenance and volunteering activities will be focussed on the upkeep of the Priority projects and Long term priorities.
Next steps

Working together

Following the demise of Wanstead House, the City of London, the London Borough of Redbridge and
the Wanstead Sports Grounds Ltd all intervened to purchase sections of the Park to prevent its further
loss to housing. Now for the first time, all these parties are working as partners on a joint plan to guide the future of the site. Our initial ideas and proposals include the following:

  • Developing a vegetation management plan for the whole Park including, restoring lost views, improving access and habitat management
  • Expanding opportunities for local people to get involved with the care and management of the Park
  • Exploring the potential to develop an apprenticeship scheme in the Park
  • Develop income generation opportunities to help fund a sustainable future for the Park.
  • Reaching the community: We want to encourage more people to visit and enjoy Wanstead Park. We have developed some ideas to achieve this and we would like your thoughts on these as well as suggestions for others.
  • Self-guided walks using information uploaded onto smart phones from Quick Response (QR) codes or Augmented Reality applications.
  • Animated trails and community events for people of all ages and backgrounds, involving experts and artists, to bring the Park’s amazing history to life.
  • Open air cinema and small concerts at The Temple and other managed activity spaces.
  • ‘Pop up’ cafes and catering beside the lakes.
  • Improving and promoting opportunities for private functions, such as weddings and parties to help bring in revenue to fund the Park.
  • Reintroduce boating to the Park, eg on the Heronry Pond.  [No,no, no]
  • Expanding the successful ‘Park Run’ on Wanstead Flats to include the Park.
  • Establish the Wanstead Park Festival as the highlight of the park’s events calendar, building on the success of Music in the Park.
  • Undertaking outreach and promotional activities in the culturally diverse communities beyond the park, such as Ilford, Leytonstone and Forest Gate, to attract a wider audience to the Park.
  • Providing access to the site of the former Wanstead House (within the golf course) so that the general public can find out more about the mansion and also use the club’s social facilities.
  • Encouraging more visitors to enjoy the Grade 1 listed St Mary’s Church by expanding events and guided activities in the Park that link with the church.
What do you think?
  • What makes Wanstead Park special for you? [wintering duck,Water Rail, Kingfisher, Hobby, Reed Warbler, Slavonian Grebe, OK all the birds, butterfly, dragons, OK all the insects, the fungi, the trees, the fish, the amphibians, the reptiles (though not the terrapin), the Wood Mice, foxes, the Tea Shop, and everything that is not dog orientated]
  • What would spoil a trip to Wanstead Park for you? [this happening!]

Please fill out our survey form and help us to shape a better future for Wanstead Park – London’s greatest surviving historic waterscape and planned to become the finest park in East London.

What happens next?
Feedback Fortnight is an important part of our work to develop a Parkland Plan that covers the four different ownerships at Wanstead Park.  The findings will be included alongside technical studies to ensure we prepare a plan that meets the different needs as fully as possible. The aim is to have plan in place for work to start in 2016.

Friends of Wanstead Parklands
If you are interested in getting involved further, why not join the Friends of Wanstead Parklands? They hold activity days, talks, walks and more.

More information can be found at:
More information about the Park and our plans is online All the information in this display can be found at:

A lot of clearing of habitat is the conclusion I've reached, how that sits with protecting habitats is hard to imagine.  I like the idea of grazing, but part of me likes this for the fun we will all have with dog owners, but I don't like the threat of clearance at the eastern edge of the plain as this is about the best habitat in the park, which isn't the Shoulder of Mutton.  Common Whitethroat last nested here, and it looks the best bet for a Redstart (Mike M's seen one) and Stu got his singing Nightingale nearby.

There is far too much talk of clearing (what is already very poor) the margins of all the lakes.  We need less access and more marginals, and as for boating - no way! Aint nothing wrong with any of the views in my mind, and not any that willbe improved by seeing the awfulness that man perpetrates - yet nothing on removing the pylons - trees bad, pylons good?

A lot of stuff on how the Corporation might gain a few quid here and there, and this is basically the crux of the matter- the more people that visit the more grants open up - regardless of the cost to the environment, something the rangers have raised concerns with me over.

The whole thing is a re-hash of the proposals put forward and then retracted, for a Heritage Lottery Grant a few years back. Luckily most of it will be forgotten or will be dead in the water, but if like me you are concerned please send your feedback as requested to the link at the top of the page

Funny how the only group that actually does any benefitial habitat maintenance in the place is not mentioned: The WREN group!

There are some good examples of how parks and open spaces can work both for users of the park and to encourage and protect wildlife, they are called the Royal Parks and they use restricted access to help protect and conserve, better that model be used here and elsewhere in parks across London.

Here is what I'd like to see

  • Reed bed expansion to all lakes and some restricted access to lake boundaries
  • Removal on non indigenous lime trees, which are killing bees
  • More policing of forest rules e.g no dogs in any waters of the forest, no fires, no motorised vehicles etc.
  • Creation of ponds in Old Sewage Works
  • Creation of tern islands and floating reed beds
  • Erection of numerous nesting boxes and the culling of Grey Squirrel and brood management of Magpie 

Cost = bugger all


  1. Hi Nick,
    I went to the FWP meeting last week and there was a good attendance. There was much interest in the need to improve the litter and dog situation as well as the need to create a natural play area for children, all of which I would strongly support. Worryingly there was also a suggestion of a running track around some of the lakes!!!
    The focus from the Chair of FWP was very much on the need to take the park off the English Heritage’s ‘at risk’ register. This will be achieved with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and I understand around £5m will be secured to deliver the priority projects. The implication was that other things (habitat maintenance and creation, litter, dogs, play areas, cafes etc) did not need to be part of the formal bid but could potentially happen quickly and easily. Your suggestions of ponds in Old Sewage Works, tern islands and nest boxes would seem to fall into the category. How it would happen was not clear, but perhaps that is something that can be taken forward through the WREN Group?
    There was representation from the WREN Group and they confirmed that they were still considering the proposals and would be providing a formal response to the consultation in due course.
    I asked what analysis has been done on the impact of the "clearing vegetation in woods in order to open up lost historic views between key features". There has not been any formal report commissioned, but they have had discussions with 'biodiversity experts' and get different advice each time.......
    My view is that RSPB and Forestry Commission should be pretty well placed and respected on advising.
    Advice from RSPB on reversing woodland bird decline is set out in the following link
    Advice from Forestry Commission on managing trees in designed landscapes is set out in the following link
    Clearly IF it is done in the right way it could be productive. Biodiversity can be enhanced through having a mosaic of habitats which is frequently a characteristic of designed landscapes. There is a real need to make sure that experts are fully engaged in implementing any plans that change habitats. Again I would have thought that WREN Group would be best placed to feed in formally and take forward. I’d certainly be interested in becoming more involved.
    Advice from Forestry Commission on grey squirrel culling is that it is a near impossible task in London as you would need to get everyone within a clearly defined area to undertake control and that will be very difficult to achieve.
    I also found the findings of the last consultation that took place in 2011, which is set out in the link below. I must have missed the bird observation point at the Grotto which was strongly favoured

    1. Thanks for the input and the effort. The WREN group's stance may be covered in the upcoming newsletter, or not. I am already concerned that habitat removal has gone too far in both the park and on the flats and any environmental concessions mentioned in the consultation are but a sop to the desire of local historians to have a dig and return a formality to the park, which in my view is the last thing it needs