We are pleased to confirm, subject to safety checks, that the park will formally reopen by Friday 1 April on schedule after significant landscaping and improvement works taking place since November. As trees come into blossom and leaf and wildflowers become established, I hope you’ll agree, the park will look fabulous. We already know that the play and exercise equipment will be popular.
There are some key pieces of work still to be completed:
- The wooden boardwalk by the river will remain fenced off for the time being. We know that the timber needs to be completely replaced and a survey soon to be carried out will confirm if the supporting structure is sound. Restoring the boardwalk is very important given the loss of space in the park to the westbound cycle track of C9.
- C9 will remain closed off and not open for cyclists to use until lighting, delineating tactile paving and signage is installed. And until cyclists can safely access the track from the High Street by way of a dropped kerb. It might be June before the track is open.
- A drinking fountain by the play and exercise area has still to be connected to the water supply. This is dependent on Thames Water scheduling the work, hopefully before too long. There is to be a water point at the eastern end of the park too which we’re told may need to be connected to a supply on the north side of the High Street. Once installed this water point will be able to support a community garden at that point and will also ensure ready access to water to help newly planted trees and shrubs thrive.
- 12 waste bins have been ordered but as I write only 5 have arrived and been installed. There is to be daily emptying of the waste bins (except during winter).
- Bird and bat boxes, insect hotels and a book depository will be installed over the coming months.
- Tired seating and tables along the Thames Path will be replaced with new furniture the same as sited elsewhere in the park.
The park’s setting by the river makes it special and we have been, and will continue to be, very interested in the moorings development and construction of the car park / facilities building. The external structure of the car park appears to be substantially complete. Earlier this month the developer received a Marine Licence from the Marine Management Organisation to construct the moorings. We understand that the developer now has until December to complete Phase I of the moorings (which starts at the eastern end of the park and does not go quite as far west as the vessel Lis). There are, however, Local Planning and Marine Licence conditions to be fulfilled. The Marine Licence (which you can find on the MMO website by searching with reference number MLA/2021/00267) includes permission to remove the timber boardwalk and install a reed bed as originally intended in 2016 and does not take account of the updated 2021 planning consent to retain the boardwalk. The Council assures us that the boardwalk will be restored and the permitted activities set out in the Marine Licence to remove it simply won’t take place.
We are also puzzled that the developer’s Method Statement for constructing the moorings does not address demolition and removal of existing concrete and other structures in the river. At a public meeting on 29 March 2022 the Port of London Authority confirmed that a Demolition River Works Licence is required and there isn’t one currently in place. So it seems there are yet further procedures that must be completed before works can commence in the river. It is unclear at this stage how this will affect the timing of works.
Activities in the park
Perhaps the success of the transformation of the park will be judged on how it will be enjoyed over coming months and years. One new facility is a performance space close to the western entrance. We would really like to see this space well used for yoga classes, by local musicians, by local schools, for open mic events to celebrate local talent and … If the Friends are to facilitate or organise events we’ll need to grow our membership and seek funding. We’ll be holding a Friends Meeting and AGM on Wednesday 20 April 2022 at 7pm at Studio Flox, Ground Floor, Watermans Park Building (access from Smith Hill or Watermans Arts Centre car park). Please make a note of the date and do come along to share your views, including activities for the official opening event, the date for which is still to be arranged.
If you have any questions, would like to receive updates from or join the Friends, please contact Philip Jones at email@example.com.
Chair, Friends of Watermans Park
30 March 2022