The Heritage Lottery Fund has confirmed funding for a scheme to revitalize the features of the River Wandle as it winds through Wandsworth.
The first HLF Landscape Partnership Scheme in the London area will receive almost £2m and brings together Wandsworth, Croydon, Sutton and Merton with the National Trust, Wandle Trust, Groundwork London, London Wildlife Trust, Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust and Wandle Valley Festival.
Sue Bowers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “The Wandle is a fascinating watercourse whose existence, let alone its history, is only glimpsed at a few points during its journey from Surrey to the Thames. This exciting partnership project will open up both physical access and educational opportunities to the many communities that live or work close to it.”
The river meanders for 20 miles from the Surrey Hills to the Thames at Wandsworth but much of it is either inaccessible or runs through dense urban areas. HLF has already helped fund major projects at specific points along its length such as Morden Hall Park, Wandle Park and Carshalton Ponds.
The new five-year Landscape Partnership involve physical improvements to riverbanks and access, removing invasive weed species, replacing concrete culverts with natural sloping banks and installing boardwalks. This will help to open up areas of both natural and historic interest and is supported by a learning programme so that communities can find out more about the various aspects of the watercourse; its wildlife interest and its past industrial uses.
Wandsworth is the lead authority in the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership. Speaking on behalf of the borough Cllr Sarah McDermott, a board member of the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust, said: “This is great news. The partnership project will really raise the profile of this much loved and historic river and shows a real determination to improve the river and highlight its important heritage.
“Over the next five years all the partners involved in the regeneration of the Wandle will be working on a range of exciting projects to involve local people in celebrating the history of the river and safeguarding its future. We are all committed to bringing this river back to the heart of south London life.”