Josh Robins, RRC
A couple of weeks ago me and a group of RRC Members visited Enfield in North London to see the Albany Park Restoration Project on Turkey Brook. Ian Russell (Enfield Council) and Matilda Biddulph (Environment Agency) were kind enough to show us what they have achieved.
After navigating London’s roads, tube lines or cycle paths to get to Albany Park, the first thing that strikes you is how pleasant it is to look at. What used to be an unremarkable recreational park is now a vibrant and welcoming environment. Before the project, Turkey Brook was tucked away at the edge of the park in a concrete lined channel which provided neither public amenity nor habitat diversity. It is now the central feature of the park providing both enjoyable public spaces and a diverse array of habitats
The work itself involved the creation of an inset floodplain within the park and a new channel meandering through well-connected marginal habitats. Fortunately, the natural superficial geology provided an ample supply of gravel for the new bed which is now allowed to develop its own forms and features. Attendees were marvelling at a large gravel bar that has developed organically since the project’s completion. The site was designed so that some areas – such as the impressive outdoor classroom – allow and encourage public access to the river, whilst elsewhere the river is hidden away to provide refuge and privacy for species inhabiting it.
In the afternoon we travelled a short distance to see Enfield Council’s Beaver Project in a dense deciduous woodland - a stark contrast to the urban parkland we had just seen. We didn’t get a beaver sighting but there was plenty of evidence of its activity.
The visit highlighted the breadth of work that is now delivered to improve our rivers, and that even in urban environments where the challenges are considerable, innovation and ingenuity are continuing to advance and inform best-practice.