Watling Park

A flood basin will be built in the north of the park and a section of the Burnt Oak Brook will be re-aligned, taking it out of its concrete channel, adding meanders and bringing it further into the park. Wetlands will also be created in the central area of the park. These wetlands will intercept a surface water drain, improving water quality and providing additional flood storage.

Where is Watling Park?

Watling Park is in the London Borough of Barnet. Click here for link to Google Maps

What phase is Watling Park in the Co-Design process?

Designs finalised: Tree surveys and ecological surveys have taken place and a landscape architect has been contracted to work on the design for the landscape and infrastructure around the features. Storage features at the park will hold back water, reducing peak flows downstream. The existing channel passes close to the boundary of properties on Colchester Road. Proposed channel realignment will bring the Brook further into the park, enabling better management of the main river and adding amenity benefits to the park.

Wetlands will also be created in the central area of the park. These wetlands will intercept a surface water drain, improving water quality and providing additional flood storage.

The playground will be upgraded and moved to a new position in the park and there are plans for a new cafe with seating and toilets to be built in the future.

The team will now ensure that all permits required from the Environment Agency, Thames Water and the planning department are applied for and received in time for work to commence in Spring 2024. The tendering process for the main contractor to deliver the work will begin this winter.

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These comments and questions were recorded at co-design workshops and community consultation days.

What aspects of the project are you excited about?

The northern section is now a hidden corner- the wetlands will make the area more attractive.

This Park is central to change of the whole of Burnt Oak. Could be a central meeting location for families.

Café, changing rooms and outdoor seating area would make the park a lot more family friendly. Burnt Oak is really missing nice cafes and meeting places

Water in the park and river re-routing is a good idea!

It makes the park more nature friendly. Stream more visible and a wider entrance should mean the park is safer.

Questions, comments and concernsResponses
When will the works start?The works are planned to start at Watling Park in Spring 2024.
How long will the works take?We expect that the works will take between 6 and 9 months to complete. However, this is subject to contractor availability, weather and other unexpected situations out of our control that may arise and delay progress.
Will the park be closed during the works?The park will not need to be fully closed for the whole of the project. Work will be phased and whilst work is taking place in one area, the other areas will remain open. We will do our best to ensure that disruption to use of the park is kept to a minimum.
How much is this costing and how is it being funded?This project is funded by Defra as part of the £150 million Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme which is managed by the Environment Agency to develop and test new approaches to resilience tailored to local communities. Action for Silk Stream was awarded £6million and this will be spent across all of the project sites in Barnet and Harrow. In addition, Watling Park has also received £300K funding from the GLA as part of the Green and Resilient Spaces fund and £170K from Microsoft and £250K match funding from Barnet Council.
Will there be lighting in the park?There are no plans currently to (re)introduce lighting to the park along the paths. However, Barnet Council is working with Light Follows Behaviour to decide if the park would benefit from any interventions
What are you going to do to make this park safer?Many of the proposed changes to the park will mean it becomes safer. We will be improving sight lines along the river and through the park by thinning and removing overgrown vegetation. The entrance at Watling Avenue will be upgraded to open up the views and new railings will be added. New playgrounds at the entrance and at the north of the park will encourage more families to use the park along with long term ambitions to include a cafe and seating areas.
Who is going to look after the park when the works have been completed to make sure it remains in a good state of repair? Is there a plan for the future?Action for Silk Steam is collaborating with the River Trust for innovative financing that will focus on obtaining long term revenue funds for maintenance of the project after construction. This will ensure sustainability of the improvements to the river and land within those parks. A 10 year management plan will be produced as part of the project programme. The Council’s Parks/Green teams will ensure the upkeep and maintenance of the parks with the assistance of volunteers (i.e. stewardship/legacy).
1:30 year flood return period” – What does that mean?This means that over a 30 year period we are likely to experience one flood event of this scale. Or to look at it a different way, each year there is a 1 in 30 chance of experiencing such a flood event.
Why not have online wetlands only?  The offline wetland will still be partially connected to the river and will add to the flood resilience. During high flows water will be allowed to pass into the offline storage which will hold the water subsequently reducing the flow downstream. There will also be a pipe at the other end of the offline storage to allow water to overflow back into the river. This design allows us to maximise the flood storage benefits of the scheme while also creating diversity of habitats that will support more wildlife than a single type of wetland.
What about the properties behind the wetlands?  The scheme will benefit them because it will move the river further away, reducing flood risk to those properties.
Was that modelled against past events?  Yes, modelling has been carried out at the site to predict how it will perform. This modelling incorporates information about past flooding events.
The wetlands will attract litter- how do you plan to maintain them? Barnet Council and partners will produce a management and maintenance plan before works commence.
Antisocial behaviour is a problem in the park.  We expect to see less antisocial behaviour once the scheme is in place. In similar schemes elsewhere, we have seen how an increase in visitors to the site can help transform them into vibrant community spaces where there is less opportunities for antisocial behaviour. The project is working closely with Burnt Oak Town Centre team in Barnet which is looking to enhance the wider Burnt Oak Town centre area so that efficiencies could be achieved.
What are the benefits of daylighting a pipe?  The new stream and wetlands will help slow the flow of water into the river, reducing flood risk downstream. As the water flows through the plants in these systems, pollutants from road-runoff will also be removed, improving water quality in the river. The new stream and wetlands will also provide valuable habitat for water-loving wildlife as well as an interesting and diverse place for people to experience. Studies have shown that blue/green spaces (green spaces which are integrated with the water environment) are particularly good for boosting wellbeing.  
Will there be sewage pollution in the open?  Thames21 will carry out water quality testing to ensure that the water flowing through the pipe is suitable for daylighting. There is a possibility of low levels of pollution being present in the water from road run-off and sewage misconnections. We will work with Thames Water and the Environnment Agency to identify and resolve misconnections in the catchment.  
There are mature oak trees here.  The designs will not impact on any of the mature oak trees in the park.

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