From Three Mills Island in the East End of London, the River Lea meanders through a range of urban habitats and post-industrial landscapes down to the Thames, just east of East India Dock. Alongside this 8.5 mile stretch is a new stretch of linear green space known as the Fat Walk, the construction of which began in 2011.
A team led by 5th Studio and Latz & Partners, of which The Ecology Consultancy was a part, was commissioned by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, to advise on the development of a master-plan and subsequent detailed designs for this stretch of the River Lea.
After passing through a number of RIBA design stages, the so-called Fat Walk was put forward for planning permission in 2010. It will comprise a linear park/wide footpath (hence Fat Walk) from Three Mills to East India Dock Basin alongside the River Lea and will incorporate new river crossing points: the Ecology Consultancy will remain involved throughout its development. As well as carrying out ecological baseline surveys and impact assessment, we provided ecological input to the masterplan, making recommendations for planting trees and shrubs, creating patches of wildflower meadow, erecting bird boxes, providing new nesting sites and enhancing habitats for bats and otters.
The planted landscape will be enhanced using native species. To the south of the A13, a small area of wildflower meadow will be planted and a variety of climbers will cloak the façade of the existing bridge. A kingfisher and sand martin bank will overlook the river, embedded with artificial nesting tunnels. Black redstarts and peregrine falcons inhabit the area around the Poplar crossing and undoubtedly forage along the riverside, which in places comprises reed-bed and low-tide mudflats, providing habitat for reed warblers, waders and wildfowl.
Given the sensitivity of some of the habitats in this area, lighting proposals have been developed to ensure minimal impact on wildlife, especially bats.
East India Dock Basin provides the conclusion to the Fat Walk and reinforces the importance of biodiversity in this part of London.