Visitors to the park will know that building contractors have now been back on site for a few weeks working behind the hoardings at the eastern end.
On Monday Jane Dickinson and I met representatives from the Council and the developer and Cllr Guy Lambert and can provide an update as follows:
- replacement sections to repair the riverside fence have been ordered and are expected to be installed by the end of October. At this time the Heras fencing along the river front will be removed, with the exception of fencing around the damaged wooden walkway.
- from mid-September to around end October we will see the wrecks in the river start to be broken up and removed. Moving the materials downstream will depend on when Hammersmith Bridge is reopened to river traffic. This stage of the works does not include the removal of the vessel Lis which is close to the Arts Centre.
- by around the end of February 2021 it is expected that the eastern entrance will be opened up again. Access to the park will be by steps at the side of the car park / facilities building that will be constructed behind the hoardings.
- the plans for the moorings include a gap roughly half-way along the park riverfront and the first phase of the development will be from the east up to the gap. This phase for 14 moorings is to be completed by end July 2021. The second phase up to the Arts Centre will be considered later.
A key element of the 2016 planning consent was that in addition to the moorings development there would also be enhancements to the park. Indeed, the planning consent requires approved plans to be implemented before the moorings are operational. Since 2016 it has been decided to route the westbound cycle track of CW9 through the park and proposals outlined in the planning documentation need to be reconsidered and updated.
The Friends had strongly recommended to the Council that a landscape architect be appointed so that changes to the proposals can be made in a coordinated manner and take into account the needs all users of the park. From our meeting on Monday we expect that the Friends will soon have the opportunity to engage with the developer and their landscape architect along with the Council’s parks and transport teams to discuss options. The timeline for submitting proposals to satisfy the planning consent conditions has not yet been advised.
In March the Friends held an open meeting at the Arts Centre to discuss the implications of CW9 in the park with representatives from the Council’s transport team and TfL. Many views were expressed at the meeting in particular relating to cycle speed calming features and planting a low hedge alongside the cycle track to improve safety, routing the cycle track as close to the wall as possible and avoiding the removal of a mature tree and lighting along with other comments. TfL has responded positively to the comments raised about CW9 which now need to be incorporated into designs and followed up as part of the discussions on landscaping.
Under the 2016 planning consent the damaged wooden walkway is to be replaced and the area taken over by a reed bed. At the meeting in March strong views were expressed about whether a reed bed was now (or ever) appropriate and that restoring the timber walkway would give back usable space to pedestrians. This has been raised with the developer and the Council and along with other matters including the children’s playground, provision of water points, cycle racks, removal and planting of trees will be taken up by the Friends as part of updating the park enhancement proposals.
It is to be welcomed that at last there is a realistic prospect that the park will be improved after many years of neglect. Once there is greater clarity on how the park enhancement proposals will be developed and how we can input and reflect views of people that are interested in the park I’ll be in touch.
Chair, Friends of Watermans Park
9 September 2020