Community group crowdfunds to turn old Lea valley water depot into wild space

The East London Waterworks Park envisioned by architect Kirsty Badenoch

A Lea Valley community project is raising money to acquire and transform the Lea Bridge Road former Thames Water depot into a space for local people to swim and enjoy nature. - Credit: © Kirsty Badenoch

A community project, proposing to transform the ex-Thames Water depot on Lea Bridge Road into a "swathe of green space", has raised almost £30,000. 

The East London Waterworks Park is an idea thought up by local people to turn a 5.68 hectare, currently fenced in concrete site on the border of Hackney and Waltham Forest, into a brownfield forest for wild swimming and community use. 

Co-founded by grassroots campaign group Save Lea Marshes and the countryside charity CPRE London, the project has already raised more than £27,000.

Plans include rewilding the site and digging out some of the old Victoria filter beds, once used to supply clean water to the Lea Valley Park area, for swimming.

The former depot buildings, it is proposed, could be used for hostel accommodation and community projects.

Julian Cheyne, who is involved in the project, said: “This piece of Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) has been inaccessible to local residents for too long. The rest of the old filter beds on the former East London Waterworks sites have been opened up to the public so it is about time this missing piece joined them."

Coined by the group as the missing piece of the jigsaw, rewilding the water depot site and opening it to the public would reconnect Leyton and Walthamstow Marshes, Walthamstow Wetlands and Tottenham Marshes, the Waterworks Centre and Nature Reserve, Hackney Marshes and Middlesex Filter Beds and the river and towpath to create a huge urban park.

A map showing the ex-Thames Water depot site and surrounding areas. 

A map showing the ex-Thames Water depot site and surrounding areas. - Credit: East London Waterworks Park (ELWP)

Most Read

Julian says the "ambitious and imaginative" project has already gained support from Lea Bridge Ward councillors and  groups in Hackney like Hackney Marshes User Group, Millfields Users Group and Plastic Free Hackney.

Map of the proposed East London Waterworks Park.

The former Thames Water depot site, outlined in red, is seen as the missing jigsaw piece in the waterworks parks plans and would reconnect surrounding areas currently fenced off. - Credit: East London Waterworks Park (ELWP)

The project's Spacehive fundraiser has already reached 95 per cent of its target and will be used to develop the idea with a team of professionals, as well as enter into negotiations with the landowner. 

Money will be used to hire a surveyor to value the land and enable negotiations with the landowner, and determine a fundraising goal. 

Julian added: "We are enormously grateful to all those who have shown us support and are keen to make the project inclusive so that all can enjoy its benefit."

To support the project visit

More details of the project can be found on the East London Waterpark website at

The East London Waterworks Park imagined by architect Kirsty Badenoch.

The East London Waterworks Park imagined by architect Kirsty Badenoch. - Credit: © Kirsty Badenoch

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter