Sir David Attenborough Opens New Wetlands Centre at Woodberry Down

3rd May 2016

Berkeley Woodberry Down New Wetland Centre

Sir David Attenborough has launched a nature reserve for London with the London Wildlife Trust  at Woodberry Down in Stoke Newington. Establishing a new benchmark in 21st Century nature conservation, the Woodberry Wetlands provides a unique opportunity for Londoners to engage with nature in the Capital's Zone 2, at the heart of Berkeley Homes regeneration.

Following a £230,000 contribution  from Berkeley Homes, Woodberry Wetlands, which encompasses 11 hectares, has been reopened  for the first time ever since its construction  almost 200 years ago.
London Wildlife Trust and their patron Sir David Attenborough with partners including Berkeley Homes, as well as a team of local volunteers, have unveiled Woodberry Wetlands.  This protected urban oasis attracts wildlife rarely seen elsewhere in London.

The nature reserve was saved from dereliction in the late 1980s after being identified as a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. Restoration work began in 2010 and it is today home to 13,000m² of newly planted reed bed and 550m² of new hedgerow, as well as wildflower meadows and fruit trees, which combine to create a haven for birds, bees, butterflies and other insects.

Tony Pidgley, Chairman of the Berkeley Group, comments:
"We all need nature close at hand. It's part of what makes people feel good about their lives - being able to experience wildlife and open space close to your home. Berkeley is very proud indeed to support the wonderful Woodberry Wetlands. It has been a hidden gem that everyone can now enjoy. Somewhere they can go and feel inspired. Right across London, we are creating 212 acres of parks and public space. It shows you the power of good new development to make a massive difference to people's quality of life."

Gordon Scorer, London Wildlife Trust's chief executive, says:
"Access to nature is incredibly important for people's wellbeing, especially in built-up cities and towns. The rebirth of this reservoir, in the midst of one of London's biggest housing regeneration projects, as a free-to-visit, natural resource, bringing nature within reach of a huge urban audience, demonstrates that nature, and all its benefits, can be successfully weaved into the fabric of London, and other cities, as they develop and grow."

From Sunday 1st May, Woodberry Wetlands will be open to the public and aims to bring people closer to nature as well as to fulfil a vision for a greener London. The London Wildlife Trust is running a year round programme of culture, education and volunteering as it seeks to preserve Woodberry Wetlands for the Woodberry Down community and beyond.

Sir David Attenborough said at the launch event:
"Contact with the natural world isn't a luxury; it is a huge pleasure and brings such delight, but it is a necessity to all of us. It is the most precious inheritance that we have.
I have spent 70 years witnessing disaster and trying to avert catastrophe in the natural world; we continue to lose so much that is precious, so it is marvellous to be here at Woodberry Wetlands and see the reverse - we should celebrate that.
Nature is our heritage and makes our lives worth living. Woodberry Wetlands makes nature available to London - and above all is free. This is a great day and long may it be remembered."

About Woodberry Down
To coincide with the launch of Woodberry Wetlands, Berkeley Homes is launching a new phase at Woodberry Down - the Nature Collection. A truly unique opportunity to live adjacent to a protected nature reserve, the Nature Collection offers uninterrupted views of London's unique wildlife, rural scenery and the Stoke Newington Reservoirs.
Situated on the eastern edge of the New River trail, the Nature Collection offers a selection of one, two and three-bedroom apartments and penthouses.
Alongside the protected nature reserve, residents will benefit from close proximity to the West Reservoir, which offers watersports and outdoor pursuits. Spring Park completes a trio of parks in the area, which include Finsbury Park and Clissold Park.

Piers Clanford, Managing Director of Berkeley Homes (North East London) Ltd, comments:
"Woodberry Down offers a truly unique lifestyle opportunity for all, somewhere to escape in the City. With over 40 acres of open water, including a nature reserve and wildlife centre on your doorstep, residents can really enjoy a tranquil environment from the moment they get home."

Prices at The Nature Collection at Woodberry Down start at £425,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. For more information, please contact the marketing suite on 0208 985 9918 or visit www.woodberry-down.co.uk

ENDS

For media information (not for publication), please contact Melissa Scarlett, Edelman
Tel: +44 20 3047 2175, Email: melissa.scarlett@edelman.com

NOTES TO EDITORS

About the Berkeley Group

1.                   The Berkeley Group builds homes and neighbourhoods. It is publicly-owned and listed on the London Stock Exchange as a FTSE 100 company.
2.                   In 2014, the Berkeley Group supported 21,000 jobs in the UK. Each new home built by the business sustained 5.6 jobs across the UK. Berkeley also contributed £1.4 billion to Britain's GDP.
3.                   Berkeley recently won the Queens Award for Enterprise (2014). It was voted Britain's second Most Admired Company across all industries in 2013 and has been ranked Britain's most sustainable major housebuilder for the last eight years in a row by the Next Generation benchmark.
4.                   The Berkeley Foundation supports young people and their communities across London and the South of England. It is a registered charity and has invested £5m in over 60 charities since it was launched in 2011. Staff from the Berkeley Group have raised over £1m.

Urban nature
Go to wildlifetrusts.org/urban-wildlife  to see other examples of other urban nature reserves cared for by The Wildlife Trusts.
The Wildlife Trusts (TWT)  wildlifetrusts.org

There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK.  All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone.  We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch.  Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas.  We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife.  Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors.  Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.

London Wildlife Trust wildlondon.org.uk
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 outdoor learning.

What Woodberry Wetlands will offer
Year-round free admission to the site will be available daily from 8:00am - 5:00pm (subject to seasonal variations). Woodberry Wetlands will also host a wide range of outdoor and wellbeing activities, wildlife walks and tours, educational and craft workshops, farmers markets, festivals and more. Full programme details are available from www.woodberrywetlands.org.uk/events.

Woodberry Wetlands history
Woodberry Wetlands has been created on the site of Stoke Newington East Reservoir, built in 1830-1833 to store fresh water in response to widespread contamination of the Thames and other local drinking water sources. The reservoir's foundation was laid using bricks from the original London Bridge and is built on top of a hill.  The reservoir remains an important part of London's water supply - it is fed by the New River, an early 17th century feat of aqueduct engineering, designed by Sir Hugh Myddleton, which brings fresh spring water 45km from Hertfordshire. The reservoir has been owned by Thames Water since 1973 and is currently operated as a raw water store. It can hold more than 25,000 m3 of water for onward supply to the Copper Mill Treatment Plant in Walthamstow.

Throughout its lifespan, Woodberry Wetlands' reservoir has quietly served its intended purpose, coexisting within its changing surroundings and little noticed by the public as it became engulfed by densely populated housing. The area which began as a luxury residence area - it included a former manor house of the Duke of Northumberland - had become derelict by the end of two world wars. Compulsory purchase orders of swathes of land followed and the development of the Woodberry Down estate ensued in the 1950s to house communities made homeless during the Blitz. Although the development was once hailed as a utopian success, this was short lived, and by the 1980s the estate was suffering from disrepair.  In 2001 the area became the focus for regeneration.

The project
In 2010 London Wildlife Trust confirmed the potential for the East Reservoir and its historic buildings to be developed as a landmark conservation area for wildlife and public wellbeing, outdoor learning and community engagement. With the estate regeneration forming a dramatic backdrop to the restoration of the reservoir, the project was dubbed 'Woodberry Wetlands'. The Trust's initial proposition in 2010 was taken to landowner Thames Water and a partnership was forged along with other interested parties including Berkeley Homes and Hackney Council.  Funding from Thames Water enabled London Wildlife Trust to commission the landscape architects Allen Scott to draw up infrastructure plans to help shape a Heritage Lottery Fund bid.

Heritage Lottery Fund granted funding to London Wildlife Trust for the project in late 2014, followed by support from Thames Water, Berkeley Homes, Hackney Council, Veolia Environmental Trust, Manor House Development Trust and the Association for Industrial Archaeology, and the project broke ground early in 2015.

Alongside the complete restoration of the Coal House property, major works took place over the subsequent year to enhance the habitat significantly and improve biodiversity throughout the reserve. Over 13,000 M2 of reedbed was created, with channels of water to protect the birdlife from predators such as cats and foxes.

The construction of Woodberry Wetlands has been the work of a project team consisting of London Wildlife Trust, landscape architects Allen Scott; architects Kaner Olette Architects; surveyors Huntley Cartright and contractors Salix and Bolt & Heeks. Allen Scott's masterplan for Woodberry Wetlands (following the Trust's initial vision) won a Landscape Institute Award (Neighbourhood Planning) in 2012.

Wildlife
The reservoirs serve primarily as a haven for waterfowl, particularly gadwall, shoveler, tufted duck, common waders and terns. National Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority species such as reed bunting, song thrush, kingfisher and Cetti's warbler are known to breed at the reserve. (It is Hackney's first breeding ground for Cetti's warbler and is also regularly visited by kingfisher, and bittern in winter).  As well as protecting its resident and migrant species, the project hopes to encourage declining birds such as water rail, little ringed plover, snipe and bittern.

As well as a foraging and roosting territory for bats, Woodberry Wetlands is a wonderful habitat for amphibians such as frogs, toads and newts and a wide range of invertebrates, such as dragon and damselflies, including the rare red-eyed damselfly, butterflies and moths.  Woodberry Wetlands is also recognised as being a 'feeder site' to the International and European designated Lee Valley Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site, which includes the Walthamstow Reservoirs, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Back to Press Releases