East London could be getting a spectacular plant-themed community hub

Campaigners at East London Waterworks Park have announced new plans for a ‘learning petal’ as part of continued efforts to transform the former Thames Water parking lot into a community hub. This is an update of previous proposals that suggested turning the site into an open-water swim spot

The ‘learning petal’ would be a 230-square-metre walled garden and teaching area for children, and it’s the latest proposal from the ELWP, a charity hoping to revive the plot of land in the Lower Lea Valley marshes.

Previous plans included turning the area into a wild swimming spot equipped with a meadow, cafe and art studios to breathe new life into the semi-rural (or as rural as London gets) space. And let’s face it, who would say no to an alternative to a dip in Hackney Marshes down the road?

Illustration of people swimming
Photograph: Periscope

Sounding a bit too good to be true? Well, nothing is set in stone. The charity is currently up against plans from the Department for Education, which wants to reserve the government-owned land for a secure children’s unit. According to the gov, it’s the only suitable site in Greater London for a project of such scale. 

The ‘learning petal’, in providing more of an educational purpose for the East London Waterworks Park, makes the charity’s case stronger. As part of the announcement, the charity outlined lessons that would be hosted in the space, including gardening skills, planting, propagating and harvesting. 

Image of proposed plans for the community hub
Photograph: ELWP

Indeed, the prospect of a meadow-side swim in East London has captured the hearts of those eager to escape the queues at Hampstead Heath’s famous ponds. Earlier in May, a campaign to save the land from the government’s plan gained 10,000 signatures.

Waltham Forest Council will meet later this month to discuss the outcome of the petition. Fingers crossed by next summer we’ll be cooling off in a glorious east London meadow, obligatory iced latte in hand. 

You can find out more about the plans for East London Waterworks Park on the official website here

Did you see that Londoners are being asked to count all pollinating insects in the city?

Plus: Canary Wharf’s open-water swimming spot has officially reopened.

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