10. Wardown Park & Lake
Themes: Promoting appropriate and sympathetic land management; Improving water quality and water quantity
- Reduce flood risk
- Increase the amount and quality of habitat
- Reduce pollution through physical improvements around the river
A number of changes to Wardown Lake will have a positive impact on the water and the wildlife.
A first stage of Heritage Lottery Funding supported work at the museum but a second bid is now being developed focussing on the lake.
Plans for this second phase of investment will focus on restoring the lake as the most significant natural heritage feature. This will repair the main structure; introduce new planting and wetland habitats; enhance biodiversity; and, upgrade the boathouse to incorporate WiFi and a mobility hub. This will increase commercial resilience and return boating to the lake. These elements were excluded from the previous Urban Parks Programme project (PK-99-00920) completed in 2005.
Luton is well-known for its rich demographic mix of residents and Wardown is a key asset to bring communities together, building a more cohesive, inclusive and healthy society. An extensive activity programme will extend the diversity of park users, improve interpretation and increase digital resources. Learning from previous Heritage Fund projects, activities will include public health, education, volunteering and training, skills development and regular and seasonal events.
The project will improve environmental sustainability by promoting nature-based restoration, improving natural management of the lake and watercourse that feeds it. Discussions with Affinity Water will explore the alignment of their restoration work on the River Lea as part of the Revitalising Chalk Rivers initiative - a UK Priority Habitat.
Luton has submitted a Flood Resilience Innovation bid to DEFRA to extend the partnership with the Environment Agency. This will improve future proofing and increase the impact of the project, adopting an ecosystems approach through strategic upstream interventions to the River Lea. Luton has commissioned a Cranfield University Water Science Institute group project to model the environmental baseline. This will explore the potential for new reed beds and attenuation basins to reduce siltation, increase water quality and improve flood risk management; improving sustainability and resilience to climate change.
Previous projects at Wardown Park
- In July 2016 the iconic Wardown Park Suspension bridge was officially re-opened to the public in following extensive repair and renovation. The bridge underwent a four month facelift to restore it restore it to its original glory with much of the structural steel work mended and the suspension cables replaced.
The bridge has been a central feature of the park since the early 1900s and was completed by 1908. It is reported to be shortest single span suspension bridge in the country.
- In November 2014, silt was removed to improve water quality and flow.