Mayor announces £900,000 to improve London’s green spaces

22 January 2015

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson today (Thursday, January 22) announced a £900,000 fund for projects across the capital that will improve local green spaces – and Londoners are being asked for their views on which schemes should receive funding.

The Mayor’s Big Green Fund II will provide grants of up to £175,000 towards environmental improvements including better walking and cycling links between green spaces and schemes that help to manage flood risk.

Seven projects have been identified by the Mayor and members of the public can give their support for their favourite schemes from today until Monday, March 2. Once the poll has concluded, the Mayor’s team will analyse the figures and determine which schemes to prioritise for funding.

The seven schemes cover the length and breadth of the capital and range from proposals to restore a marsh in Stanmore to a project that would link two wetland wildlife reserves in Hackney and Walthamstow.

This latest round of funding follows hot on the heels of the hugely successful inaugural Big Green Fund that saw the Mayor of London invest £2million in six environmental projects in Hounslow, Waltham Forest, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Bexley and Redbridge.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “London is growing by 100,000 people every year and while are working hard to stimulate the construction of new homes and improve transport infrastructure, we also need better quality green spaces.

There is absolutely no doubt that parks and green spaces in urban areas improve the wellbeing and quality of life of local people and through the Big Green Fund II we look forward to transforming sites across the capital that thousands of residents will enjoy.”

Simon Hughes, the Environment Agency’s Deputy Director London, said: “We were delighted to help the Mayor select suitable projects for the Big Green Fund. The public poll is a great way for Londoners to show their support for projects that will improve their local environment and achieve other benefits such as helping to reduce flood risk.”

The Big Green Fund builds on work by the Mayor already underway to make London greener and leafier by investing in ‘green infrastructure’ that can provide a wide range of environmental and economic benefits. This includes planting an additional 10,000 street trees by spring 2015 and a £2million scheme to transform some of the capital’s unloved spaces into ‘Pocket Parks.’

In 2008, the Mayor launched his Help a London Park scheme which saw Londoners vote for the parks they most wanted to see improved. Ten parks were each awarded £400,000 for improvement projects, making them cleaner, safer, greener and better places to visit and enjoy. Members of the public can decide which projects they like most by visiting www.london.gov.uk/biggreenpoll.

Notes to editors

Green infrastructure is a term which describes how the city’s network of green spaces - and features such as street trees and green roofs - are planned, designed and managed to deliver a range of benefits, including: recreation and amenity, healthy living, mitigating flooding, improving air quality, cooling the urban environment, encouraging walking and cycling, and enhancing biodiversity and ecological resilience. The seven projects that have been shortlisted for funding are:

The Duke’s River Link - London Borough of Richmond and London Borough of Hounslow

The Duke of Northumberland’s River is a 500 year old, four kilometre long constructed waterway that runs from the River Crane in Twickenham to the River Thames in Old Isleworth. This project will improve the social, historical and environmental value of the Duke’s River, as a key recreational route for local people and a green corridor for wildlife. This will be achieved through a series of projects designed to make the link more accessible by addressing the poor condition of the existing paths, improve way-finding, enhance the ecology of the river corridor and produce on site mapping and leaflets to promote the route. The Duke’s River Link improvements will help to realise the ambition to create a new 10 kilometre circular riverside walk linking the Crane, Thames and Duke’s Rivers. Rob Gray, speaking on behalf of the Crane Valley Partnership, said; "We are delighted to be shortlisted for this funding. The Duke's River project, creating an improved wildlife and community green corridor linking the River Crane with the River Thames, has been a long term objective of the partnership. This competition provides an opportunity for us to finally deliver this major benefit for west London - so we will be giving it our best shot and urging everyone to vote". Firs Farm Wetlands - London Borough of Enfield Firs Farm Playing Fields is an expansive open space bordering Edmonton and Winchmore Hill in north London. It contains twelve football pitches and one rugby pitch which are well-used but otherwise is of for other members of the local community. The Moore Brook (a ‘lost’ tributary of the Pymmes Brook) used to run through the park but was piped underground over 50 years ago. The project will create a substantial new wetland habitat capable of storing 30,000 cubic metres of flood water that will reduce flood risk to over 100 residential properties and the A10 trunk road. This will be done without affecting the sports facilities. It will also restore 500m of river to the park creating an interesting and varied landscape and improving the ecology of the park. A variety of native species will also be planted in the flood storage area providing habitat. Cllr Chris Bond, Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment said “Enfield Council has worked extremely hard with the Friends of Firs Farm Park to get this much loved open space shortlisted in the competition. “We are up against six other parks London wide, so I am calling on all residents and people interested in our green spaces to get voting to ensure Firs Farm is successful. Our bid will see vital work taking place to build a flood relief scheme and cycle path to ensure Firs Farm Park is even more accessible. We have the support of our partners the Environment Agency, Thames Water, Sustrans and Thames 21. So don’t waste any time, get your vote in for Firs Farm Park.”

Riding the Roding - London Borough of Redbridge

The Roding Valley through Wanstead initiative aims to make some of the borough’s best riverside open space accessible to walkers, cyclists and less abled people. This project will create a new riverside cycle path between Wanstead Park Road Recreation Ground and Redbridge Roundabout. It will connect the already completed south and north sections of the Roding Valley Way greenway, making safe cycling and walking possible from Newham, through Redbridge and into Essex following the River Roding. The project will enhance the river too; improvement works on this stretch of the river Roding will substantially enhance the ecology of the river, improving its aesthetic appeal and providing better habitat for birds such as kingfishers. The project will see the re-opening of the much loved and missed Coronation footbridge over the river Roding, the main access point into Wanstead Park for residents living the other side of the A406. Cllr Wes Streeting, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing for Redbridge Council, said, “We are excited about this project as it is a great partnership venture that would see us work together with the Mayor of London’s Office and the All London Green Grid partners, including City of London, The London Wildlife Trust and Sustrans. The regeneration of this forgotten green space would benefit so many in Redbridge and beyond, and we would maximise its affect by linking to local projects and priorities. I would encourage all our residents to get voting and show their support for this scheme which has the potential to have a real impact on the Borough.”

Stanmore Marsh Restoration - London Borough of Harrow

The Stanmore Marsh Restoration project will revitalise and improve the quality of an underused wetland and green open space. It will provide a better environment for a more diverse wildlife, habitat, ecology, flora and fauna to prosper. Over four hectares of open space will be transformed into an attractive green open space. The project will also help to prevent flooding across London through the creation of approximately 3000m³ wetlands creating a natural water storage area. The project will benefit all communities, local residents and visitors including school children, businesses, older and disabled people, and people who are not normally engaged in environmental activities. It will include new nature trails, woodland walks, and tree-lined walks so that it is more accessible to a diverse and wider range of people in our local community. For school children, the area can be used for educational purposes where children can take part in pond and stream dipping, water testing and understand the natural life cycle. The project will also encourage healthier living through producing an attractive, accessible and environmentally friendly green space for walking. Volunteer groups will be involved at every stage of the project from planning trough to execution, completion and subsequent maintenance. Cllr Keith Ferry, portfolio holder for business, planning and regeneration said: “We are pleased to be shortlisted for the Mayors Big Green Fund II. Harrow is already a diverse area with large areas of green open spaces. This project will help us to open up underused wetland in Stanmore to members of the public and increase the biodiversity of these wetlands. It will also transform the area into an attractive open space where it can be used for a range of recreational, health and educational purposes. “If we are successful, the project will not only benefit the residents of Harrow, but it will form part of a wider series of natural flood defences across London. We will be working closely with stakeholders, residents, volunteer groups, local businesses and schools on this project.”

Thamesmead Thames Path Transformation - Royal Borough of Greenwich

The stretch of Thames Path in Thamesmead has the potential to be a bustling route, offering all users fantastic views of the river, as well as a providing a direct walking and cycling connection between the residential area of Thamesmead and the local employment and transport hub of Woolwich. The route is almost entirely off-road, and directly adjacent to the river, making it a safe and appealing route for both leisure and commuter users. Sections of the path are currently underused by the local community. The section through Tripcock Ness is a compacted gravel path of poor quality, making it difficult for cyclists, wheelchair users and people with buggies to negotiate. In winter, it suffers from severe ponding, and are virtually impassable, creating a significant ‘missing link’ in the path. The Thamesmead Thames Path Transformation project will enhance the existing pathway, and in addition create designated lookout points along the river; mini green havens with seating and information on the rich local wildlife, habitats and history of the Thames. Councillor Danny Thorpe, Royal Borough of Greenwich Lead Member for Regeneration and Transport said: "Making improvements to this popular section of the Thames Path would not only benefit local residents – but many other people who regularly enjoy walking this stretch of riverfront. It’s also a really important thoroughfare linking Thamesmead with Woolwich – where many people travel to for work or to pick up transport links into London and further afield. We want to encourage more people to use this safe and appealing off road route. While a lot of the path is in good condition, to improve the whole path would definitely encourage more people to make their trip on foot or by cycling. “This is an area of huge potential with wonderful riverside views. This funding would be a vital help to making it easier for everyone, and especially wheelchair users, cyclists and people with buggies to enjoy all that this stretch of riverfront offers".

Wetlands to Wetlands Greenway - London Borough of Hackney

Two new wetland wildlife reserves are being created at the Thames Water owned reservoirs at Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney and Walthamstow Wetlands in Waltham Forest. Neither of the sites are particularly well-known, however, the two wetlands are just 3km apart, allowing the possibility of visitors to experience both sites in the same day. The project aims to create a clearly-signed and greener route between the two sites and nearby public transport hubs (Manor House and Tottenham Hale) to create an enhanced visitor experience. The project will include road safety improvements, streetscape enhancements and additional tree planting to create a new route through local parks and on quiet roads, to encourage access to both sites by foot and cycle. By creating this new green corridor between two exciting new wetland destinations in north-east London, this project will bring people closer to the wonderful landscape of the Lea Valley and inspire local residents living in some of the most densely built neighbourhoods of London to venture outside, get active and explore the natural world. Cllr Feryal Demirci, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods said: “Hackney is thrilled that the Wetlands to Wetlands Greenway proposal we have been developing in partnership with Waltham Forest Council and the London Wildlife Trust has been shortlisted for the Big Green Fund public poll. If successful in the poll this scheme will create a new green corridor between the two new exciting wetland destinations in north-east London and provide a fantastic opportunity to bring people closer to the wonderful landscape of the Lea Valley and connect the thriving communities of north Hackney and Waltham Forest.”

Access to Wandle Park - London Borough of Croydon

The project will deliver key components of the recently published Croydon Old Town Masterplan by making improvements to walking and cycling facilities which will create better access between Croydon town centre and the newly transformed Wandle Park and the Wandle Valley Regional Park beyond. The improvements will include: upgrading the Waddon New Road entrance to Wandle Park to make it more welcoming and accessible by relocating the bus stop, providing a wheeling channel on the bridge for bicycles and pushchairs, and new planting; tree planting, better lighting and the installation of zebra crossings between West Croydon station and Wandle Park around the Factory Lane car park on Pitlake; and, a new staircase with a wheeling channel on to the Jubilee Bridge at Cairo New Road to create a more direct route to the northern entrances of the park. Croydon Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, Councillor Kathy Bee, said: “Wandle Park is a real gem in our borough and we're delighted our project to improve access to it has been shortlisted for the Big Green Fund award. Being successful depends on members of the public casting their vote, so we urge people to get behind our bid. If we were to get funding, we would be able to significantly improve access to Wandle Park from the town centre, in particular for cyclists and pedestrians, and make a real contribution to the huge regeneration already under way in Croydon."

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