The Lee Valley Regional Park runs for 23 miles along the River Lea from the River Thames in East London to Ware in Hertfordshire. Essentially a river corridor with a heavily modified river channel, the floodplain green space and network of reservoirs provide a wide range of opportunities for recreation and engagement with the natural world in a highly accessible urban location.
The Park Authority has a legal duty to prepare a development plan, and in so doing it sought to establish a robust development framework that could guide and inform planning decisions taken within the riparian London Boroughs. To achieve this, the Authority commissioned our team to prepare a joint Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitats Regulations Assessment of the Park Development Framework (PDF), to ensure that a sustainable combination of recreation, enhancement, regeneration & biodiversity initiatives were selected.
Our approach to the brief was characterised by the following activities:
- Comprehensive collation of baseline data from a multitude of cross-administrative sources
- Extensive collection of bespoke GIS maps
- Site visits for contextual analysis of development proposals
- Integrated development of plan options and environmental assessments
- Extensive consultation with stakeholders and partner organisations through a series of facilitated workshops
- Assessment of likely significant effects on overwintering bittern, gadwall and northern shoveler
Landscape ecology principles were integral to the approach to assessment since the scale and linear nature of the Park, together with its aquatic habitats and other biodiversity assets, warranted a clear understanding of strategic ecological principles and practice.
The PDF sets out the Authority’s aspirations for future development and management in the Park, which includes part of the 2012 London Olympics site. It presents a strategic framework for the Authority’s activities and provides guidance for partner organisations and individuals. After several extensions to the project, work on the PDF and its accompanying assessments finally concluded with adoption of the plan in March 2011.