New parkland in post-Third Runway Colnbrook would become “regionally important recreational resource” for west London
Heathrow has today released a new CGI image showing the location of two new parks proposed for Colnbrook and Stanwell should it get its way with a Third Runway.
A major new park in Colnbrook will become a high-quality area of open space that will provide an attractive landscape and a “regionally important recreational resource” for the residents of west London and adjoining counties.
Heathrow’s new CGI today gives context to earlier images issued a few weeks ago, giving residents their first taste of what life could be like in a post-Third Runway Colnbrook. A centrepiece new visitor centre, potentially accessed from Horton Road, Drift Way and Rayners Close, would potentially re-anchor the village, becoming a hub for comunity activities.
Otters, kingfishers and sand martins, and a wide range of other species, will find themselves with new habitats created as part of an enhanced Colne Valley, which will be the main focus of compensatory habitat creation and the area will, ironically, become a place where people can experience and learn about nature.
The new images build on plans first published in June 2014 by the airport as part of its submission to the Davies Commission.
The Colnbrook parkland would be developed as part of a £105 million “once in a generation” investment in the area – although that sum would also be expected to cover the cost of new community buildings and other green areas to the north and south of the airport.
In Harmondsworth and north of what is currently the Colnbrook By-pass would be new wetland areas with public boardwalk access, and an improved cycle network connecting with local boroughs. To the south, in Stanwell, new and enhanced green spaces would include new, publicly accessible sports facilities.
Heathrow, which gives £5,000 a year to the Colne Valley Regional Park, says it is collaborating with the park’s Community Interest Company (CIC) on developing its vision. When completed, it says, parkland around the airport would be approximately four times the size of London’s Hyde Park.
The plans, which would be at the expense of farmland, would be subject to public consultation as part of a rigorous planning process.
The River Colne Spur
The ‘spine’ of the enhanced Colne Valley will be a new length of watercourse that, at this stage, is being called the River Colne Spur. Drawing upon leading best practice techniques, Heathrow says this new river, which will replace a shorter section of the River Colne, will be designed to include habitat features that will attract a wide diversity of wildlife. These would include, for example:
- A meandering and varied river channel structure with pools, riffles and other features, providing habitats for a wide range of fish and invertebrate species, and for otters, for which artificial holts will be constructed for laying-up and breeding;
- Banks that include shallow cliffs, which are suitable for breeding kingfishers and sand martins, as well as berms that will support marginal emergent plants, providing a habitat for water voles and other species;
- Willow pollards, which are a characteristic feature of the local area.The retained part of the existing River Colne that lies within the enhanced Colne Valley already includes some features that are valuable for wildlife. These will be conserved and, where appropriate, enhanced. In addition, new valuable habitat features will be created where appropriate. Further details of habitat creation and enhancement within the watercourses can be found in the water quality and hydro-ecology assessment9.
Alongside the rivers, extensive areas will be set aside as floodplains.
These flood storage areas will also provide valuable areas of green space, much of which will be of high value for wildlife. Some other large areas that are not required for flood control will become purpose-designed wildlife habitats.
The rivers, with their riparian habitats, will provide movement corridors that will enable species to move between the larger blocks of newly created habitats, and from and to sections of the existing Colne Valley to the north and south. This movement will be aided by smaller areas of habitat alongside some sections of the rivers that will act as ‘stepping stones’, facilitating the movement of species between the larger habitat blocks.