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Working with the River Crane Catchment Solution to protect 225 homes, and park improvements that included new play and picnic areas, footpaths, bridges, Yeading Brook deculverting and restoration, and a 2-year Activity Plan to support the Friends of Headstone Manor Parks and local community.

Overview:

Headstone Manor Recreational Grounds is a 23-hectare park surrounding Headstone Manor and Museum. It is home to four historically listed buildings and a 14th-century moat and is the site of a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Throughout the duration of work, the visitor attractions remained open and operational with our program avoiding peak season. 

Implementation of a Flood Alleviation Schemes (FAS)

  • Flood storage and restoration of Yeading Brook, wetlands, and other sustainable drainage schemes 
  • Deculverting of Yeading Brook

Creation of Settlement Ponds and Wetlands

  • Contract construction works of a 20,000 m3 storage basin (FAS), creation of sedimentation pond, and reed bed system to control pollution entering the moat and Yeading Brook
  • Wet and dry habitat creation

Recreational Ground Improvements and landscaping

  • Footpath installation spanning 2.5km
  • Installation of street furniture and wayfinders
  • Soft landscaping and historic orchard creation 

The delivery of the project was led by Harrow Council flood risk manager and landscape architect in partnership with:

  • Metis Consultants
  • Land Use Consultants
  • Stirling Maynard Engineers
  • Thames21
  • Crane Valley Partnership
  • Lumby Consultants

In 2023, the project received a BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries) award for ‘Nature Conservation & Biodiversity Enhancement’.

At the 2023 awards ceremony, the project received the 'Principal Award' in this category.

The award cited an “extensive and precise” ecology report with works that will go from “strength to strength”, and “how the culverts had been removed and opened up for the stream and how they encouraged wildlife and kids to play in too”.

Scope of Works:

A major element involved improvements for the River Crane Catchment Solution, including the creation of ponds and wetlands, deculverting the brook, and flood alleviation scheme works. The project also improved public access to the park by installing seven new bridges and new footpaths.

 

The works were needed to protect over 225 homes with a flood storage basin designed to accommodate 20,000m3 of flood water which is then released slowly back into the system. It is estimated to save £6m over the life of the scheme.

 

In addition to this, the multi-million-pound project also included a significant park refurbishment to support the community.

The River Crane Catchment Solution

The River Crane Catchment Solution is an ongoing partnership between London Borough of Harrow, Thames Water, and Crane Valley Partnership, to ‘protect and enhance’ the water environment of the River Crane. The solution looks holistically at floodplains, rural areas, urban areas, water treatments, and headwaters to create a ‘smarter’ water catchment, with works at Headstone Manor Recreation Ground, supporting this by:

  • Increasing the resilience to flooding with the creation of flood alleviation schemes
  • Creating settlement ponds and wetlands to control pollution entering the historic moat and river system
  • Improving and de-cultivating parts of Yeading Brook to return this to a more natural state

All these works were undertaken with an understanding and mitigation for the distribution of key species and habitats, with the aim of achieving Good Ecological Status or Good Ecological Potential throughout the catchment.

Flood Alleviation Schemes (FAS)

To futureproof local housing the FAS, works aimed to restore floodplains to a more natural state. This was achieved by improving connectivity to the river and allowing undeveloped areas of floodplain to function naturally. The process also involved increasing the water storage capacity and infiltration through the creation of backwaters, wetlands, wet woodlands, and other sustainable drainage systems.

Aerial image of settlement ponds and Reed Beds

Alongside this, the wider project will equip people with the training and knowledge required to make a flood resilience community. This includes placing every section of river corridors under community stewardship.

Settlement Ponds and Wetlands

To support the Flood Alleviation Scheme, contract works on the site involved the construction of a 20,000 m3 storage basin in addition to sediment pond, and reed bed systems.

The works involved bulk excavation of approximately 9,000 m3 of material to form the ponds and channel that will intercept surface water discharged into the moat through a control structure with sluice and overflow arrangements to divert water into the sedimentation ponds. Once the water has travelled through the wetlands it is connected back into the pipe to discharge clean water into the moat.  

Parts of the flood storage basins have also been used to create new habitats that are periodically wet and dry. These include a series of boulders, reed beds, and other plantings to cope with seasonal change.

Reed planting creating habitats

These systems will help to treat the most contaminated run-off effectively at or close to the source and increase the quality of water in the downstream catchment.  

Yeading Brook

In an approach to wetland and river management, works to Yeading Brook included the de-culverting of a 100m section, in a bid to return the river to a more natural state. 

De-culverting works on Yeading Brook

The creation of natural waterways improving conveyancing into the FSA and will also remove barriers to fish movement, promote sustainable populations of totemic species, and protect and enhance key habitats.

The area was also ‘opened up’ and is now accessible to the public and forms part of the picnic area outside the play area.

New community and picnic space alongside Yeading Brook

Recreational Ground Improvements

Wider works within the grounds were an important part of the project for park users and the local community, creating greater access to the grounds for people to interact with nature. These improvements included:

  • Greater accessibility with the construction and upgrading of 2.5 km of pathways and the installation of 7 new bridges. 
  • Installation of signage and wayfinding posts around the Recreation Ground to help people understand the purpose of the new areas
  • Helping to create an unbroken ‘Crane Valley trail’ from Headstone Manor to the Thames and along each major watercourse to unlock visitor facilities.
  • The restoration and future-proofing of the water-filled historic 14th-century moat and the replanting of a historic orchard to support the historical significance of the area.
  • A new playground with safety surfacing
  • A green grid link to Wealdstone Town centre
  • Strengthening the resilience of the parks friends group with the Crane Valley Partnership, ZSL with the supply of water testing equipment and training
Working with the River Crane Catchment Solution to protect 225 homes, and park improvements that included new play and picnic areas, footpaths, bridges, Yeading Brook deculverting and restoration, and a 2-year Activity Plan to support the Friends of Headstone Manor Parks and local community.
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