Three Hillingdon parks, including Bessingby Park in Ruislip, have been future-proofed against changing climates with the addition of new flood alleviation measures, that will also boost local biodiversity.
The new anti-flooding schemes have been unveiled in Bessingby Park, Ruislip and in Elephant Park and Hillingdon Court Park in Uxbridge.
Work on the projects began last winter and will now protect nearby homes from floods following heavy rainfall and address localised flooding issues affecting footpaths and play areas.
In Bessingby Park, heavy rainfall had caused some footpaths to become unusable. So, a large ‘swale’ has been created on eastern side of the park. This is a shallow depression in the ground, fringed with wildflowers, with rocks in the middle. Plants will be added in the spring.
Following rainfall the swale will fill with water, retaining it so it disperses slowly back into the ground. The rocks and plants will provide foraging opportunities for birds and wildlife.
In Hillingdon Court Park, a pond has been built in the corner of the park most prone to flooding. Like the swale, this will hold up to 850 cubic metres of water in situ following rainfall. This will flow into an adjoining ditch and protect homes in the north-east corner of the park against flooding.
Following large downpours, the water from Hillingdon Court Park will flow into nearby Elephant Park. Here, the water course that previously flowed underground has been newly-exposed to create a ditch, with more large rocks added to attract wildlife, and a capacity for holding 1,050 cubic metres of water.
Earlier this year volunteer residents helped the council plant thousands of small plants which will be fully grown next spring. The new water course has already pleased park-users by stopping the adjacent football field from flooding – a long-running issue for local players – and the improved environment has already led to the arrival of the grey wagtail, a pretty, yellow and grey insectivorous bird.
Councillor Jonathan Bianco, Hillingdon Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for property, highways and transport, said: “It’s vital we take steps to future-proof our borough against the increased risks of extreme weather that come with climate change.
“The benefits of these schemes are multiple, by protecting homes and streets against flash-flooding and stopping local sewer systems from being overwhelmed.”
“They will also evolve in a very short time to become vital homes for wildlife, as we’re already seeing and providing a welcome boost to local biodiversity.
“The schemes work passively, requiring no intervention from people, collecting and managing the water independently. They will be dry most of the time, coming into effect only following torrential rain. The three projects were funded by grant money totalling £200,000.”