Thames Gateway and the Olympics

Case study: Rainham Marshes

The Rainham Marshes site straddles the boundary between the London and Essex regions of the Thames Gateway.  

Together with Wennington Marshes and Aveley Marshes, this area is the largest remaining wetlands in the Thames Estuary. The marshes are also nationally important for wildlife and are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interests (SSSIs). Bringing this area back in to public use will provide a valuable resource both for the local community and could potentially attract up to one million visitors a year. 

The RSPB visitor centreMuch of this work has been lead by the RSPB who has successfully secured funding and community support for the development of the nature reserve.  Communities and Local Government Thames Gateway Programme has contributed over £3m through the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation to build the flagship, eco-friendly 'Education and Environment Centre', which was opened by the Secretary of State, Ruth Kelly in November 2006.

The southern portion of the Marshes are expected to be restored in phases as open parkland as well as a wildlife sanctuary.  This proposal known as 'Wildspace' will be the biggest public park to be created in London for over a century. Leading a consortium of interests, the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC) is bringing this site - one of the UK's most exciting wild spaces on London's doorstep - to life. At 645 hectares, it is twice the size of Hampstead Heath.

There will be improved transport infrastructure, a 'green tram' route linking Rainham and Purfleet villages, improved pedestrian access, footpaths, boardwalks, riverside walks, information points known as 'virtual gateways' at entrances to the park, and vehicle parking. Recreational facilities will include resource and education centres, viewing facilities, an urban farm, children's play areas, cafés, jetties, open parkland and an outdoor arena. Implementation is already underway, with a phased programme to 2023.

This work will be funded by the LTGDC and the Veolia ES Cleanaway Havering Riverside Trust - completing more than 5 km of traffic free pedestrian and cycle path through the park from Rainham Marshes to Rainham Village. 

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