Walthamstow Wetlands is the largest urban wetland nature reserve in the country – as well as Europe. In October 2017 the site opened its gates to the wider public for the very first time in 150 years and is now open 363 days a year with free access.
Although Walthamstow Wetlands continues to function as a Thames Water operational site with its 10 reservoirs supplying 3.5 million people with clean drinking water each day, this unique project has also created opportunities for leisure activities such as bird watching, walking and enjoying the peace and quiet - benefitting the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors alike. The Engine House offers a café serving food all day as well as an education space and gallery whilst the Coppermill Tower includes a unique platform to access views across London’s skyline.
In addition, programmes of formal and informal learning, training and volunteering are being delivered through charity partner, London Wildlife Trust. These activities promote a better understanding of the site's natural and industrial heritage and ensure a lasting legacy for future generations to cherish and celebrate.
As a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest – one of only 37 in Greater London – as well as a RAMSAR site, the site provides a special home for wildlife both resident and rare and has become increasingly popular with wildlife enthusiasts. The site has already welcomed over 250,000 visitors since opening – adding to the emergence of a wider visitor economy and supporting the regeneration plans in St James Street, Blackhorse Lane and Lea Bridge.
The council has invested over £1m in the Wetlands and is delivering the project in partnership with site owners Thames Water which has contributed £1.84million, Heritage Lottery Fund (£4.47million), the Greater London Authority (£750,000), the Environment Agency (£49,000) and Natural England.
In addition, the London Wildlife Trust has been appointed as the delivery partner to manage and conserve the Wetlands heritage. Wetland habitats are extremely rare in urban areas so conservation activities are taking place on site such as planting trees, creating meadows and introducing new reedbeds to both create new habits and conserve existing ones too.