Major parkland improvement work begins at Dagenham

Work on Dagenham's major new greenspace the Beam Parklands began this week

The 53 ha site is being improved by a partnership between the Environment Agency, The Land Trust, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, London Borough of Havering, London Development Agency and Design for London.

Arup are the designers and Birse will be the main contractor on site.

Some preparatory work has taken place over the last six months, including advance clearance of the vegetation to help protect the local wildlife, soil investigation and an archaeological investigation.

The main construction work will start at the top of the Wantz Stream (near Ballards Road) and the River Beam (near Rainham Road South). The majority of the work will be complete by the end of 2010, but there will be some additional planting done early in 2011 with the new improved open green space complete by July 2011.

Nick Leishman, Project manager for the Environment agency, said: "The design of the park has been led by the community with suggestions and comments from three separate public engagement events in 2009 directing the final design."

The main aim of the project is to enhance the River Beam and Wantz Stream, creating a series of ponds, reedbeds and groups of trees.

To do this, material extracted from rivers will be used to create new mounds around the site, with fallen logs, stepping logs, planted trees, long grass and ponds to serve as children’s play areas. 

Accessibility will be improved by providing a new bridge over the River Beam, resurfacing existing paths, creating new routes and making new gateways into the site from New Road and Mardyke Estate.

Traditional orchards with a variety of different local fruit trees are being planted at the Ridgewell Close and Mardyke Estate entrances to the site.

Leishman said:  "During the works the site will be open to the public as much as possible. The construction team will be working in distinct areas to minimise disruption. However, there will be times when certain parts of the site are not accessible, and some paths may need to be closed for short periods. Any closures will be advertised in advance, and  alternative routes will be clearly signed.

"Due to the nature of the works, on damp ground near the rivers, parts of the site will look quite muddy and unfinished until grasses and plants have grown up in the following spring. This is a really important part of making a rich environment for the local wildlife. In the long term, this is going to make the park a much more exciting and interesting place!"

Management of the park will be transferred to the Land Trust upon the work’s completion.

The Parklands Project is being funded by more than £1.5million from the London 2007-13 European Regional Development Fund. 

Money for the long term maintenance of the project has also been secured.

This will be provided by an endowment of c£1.9 million which has been secured from the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA) Parklands allocation for the East London Green Grid.

An additional  £250 000 from the Veolia Cleanaway Trust will be used specifically to improve access. 

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