Case study:Mayesbrook Climate Change Park restoration project

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Location: 51° 33' 0", 0° 6' 26"
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Project overview

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Status Complete
Project web site
Themes Economic aspects, Flood risk management, Habitat and biodiversity, Hydromorphology, Monitoring, Social benefits, Water quality, Urban
Country England
Main contact forename Nick
Main contact surname Elbourne
Main contact user ID User:NickRRC
Contact organisation River Restoration Centre
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations Thames Rivers Trust, Environment Agency, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Environment Agency, Queen Mary University of London, Natural England, Design for London, Greater London Authority, London Wildlife Trust, RSA (Insurance), SITA Trust, Mayesbrook Park Friends group
Parent multi-site project
This is a parent project
encompassing the following
Mayesbrook Park river restoration, lower reach. May 2012. Photo courtesy of LBBD.

Project summary

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The river restoration project is part of the UK’s first ‘Climate Change Park’ at Mayesbrook in Barking, east London. The project aimed to transform a rundown 45 hectare park into a showcase of how public greenspace can help a community to cope with the risks from climate change; such as increased flooding and higher summer temperatures.

The Mayesbrook Climate Change Park was delivered by an innovative partnership of public, private and voluntary organisations. By combining staff, funding and technical resources the partners were able to deliver a project that no one partner could have done alone. Funding received a major boost in 2009 when RSA donated £300,000 to the project through Thames Rivers Trust as a research contribution into natural flood management and reducing flood risk through a low carbon approach. The RSA donation also helped lever in a further £400,000 of funding from the Mayor of London’s ‘Help a London Park’ campaign.

At the launch of the works in March 2011, Richard Benyon the Minister for the Natural Environment at DEFRA said: “The Mayesbrook Climate Change Park is a shining example of the public and private sectors working in partnership. This project will be a great boost for the local communities and the environment. By bringing the Mayes Brook back into the park, planting trees and creating a wetland, this park will provide not only a great space for local people, but also the perfect habitat for wildlife. I look forward to coming back and seeing the progress of this fantastic project in the years to come.” In his speech the Minister also said that the project was showing “how to achieve more for less, which is important in today’s economic climate” and that the project was “good value for money by anybody’s standards”.

What did the project involve?
The first phase of the works has resulted in a significantly improved park in a borough which is one of the twenty most deprived in the UK. The Mayes Brook which formerly lay in a concrete channel has been brought out into the park along its 1.6 km length. The uploaded .KML file overlaid on the Google map (above) shows the course of the restored sinuous river channel in three sections (blue lines), available floodplain storage after restoration (opaque polygons) and numerous sustainable urban drainage areas (SUDs) and a backwater in the middle part of the park (green-blue polygons). These have contributed to an improvement in the wildlife and recreational value of the park. The landscaping in the middle part of the park increase flood storage by one-hectare to naturally and safely store the anticipated increase in floodwaters expected in future. In addition, separate Thames Water work to remedy misconnected drains has dramatically improved the quality of the water in the brook. New trees now cover the equivalent of three football pitches, to give shade, help cool the area and provide a home for more wildlife. New footpaths, entrance ways and signage allow the public to better use the park.

Next steps
The Mayesbrook partnership, led by Barking and Dagenham Council, have plans to implement a second phase of the project. This would include a café surrounded by a climate change garden of drought resistant plants. A display board in a new cafe will explain how all of the improvements to the park help adaptation to climate change. The display will also help people change their own lives to better cope with climate change impacts. Two polluted lakes in the park will be cleaned up, to better cool the area and to increase wildlife. One lake will have boating restored, with angling reintroduced on the other. As of March 2014, the project was still seeking funding to deliver these improvements.

Howard Davidson, Director of the Environment Agency South East, said: “Mayesbrook is already providing valuable lessons about how to plan for climate change, how to do it in partnership and how to spread the cost to make it affordable.”

Monitoring surveys and results

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Multi-partner monitoring strategy
Coordinated by the River Restoration Centre and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, a monitoring strategy was set-up during the conception stage of the project with a range of targets across four thematic areas to assess the success of the project in a clear, scientific and transparent way. The four themes were:
• Climate change
• Natural environment (aquatic)
• Natural environment (terrestrial)
• People

The 'SMART' framework was used to set targets that were Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time based. These targets were agreed by the project Steering Group and were designed to incorporate the River Restoration Centre's monitoring guidance document (PRAGMO) where appropriate. The strategy reflected monitoring activities related primarily to Phase 1 works (2011/2012) which included river restoration, habitat creation and general landscape improvements. It also included targets for the community engagement project, ‘Wild at Heart’ which was delivered in the park concurrently. The monitoring document was identified the overall aims for each theme and a list of individual targets were specified and prioritised in terms of cost, achievability and relevance. Information including what should be measured and existing data was recorded. The programme of monitoring actions for each partner was identified using a Gantt chart and this was updated throughout the monitoring programme to reflect data collected. Delivery of the strategy was overseen by the River Restoration Centre to ensure that all responsible monitoring partners collected their data in a timely and consistent manner. Data was held in one central inventory which was made accessible to all project partners.

Data collected
The monitoring strategy were delivered by different individuals and organisations of the Mayesbrook partnership. The 'climate change', 'people' and 'natural environment (terrestrial)' components of the strategy were led by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. With grant funding from Natural England (the Wild at Heart project), the Council employed a full-time ranger, between 2011 and 2013, to organise events for local people, coordinate volunteers and collect monitoring data. Data was collected to indicate the resilience of restored park features and flora to climate change. The change in area, condition and habitat suitablity of acid grassland, meadow grassland and woodland habitat was collected as well as number of birds and bats observed. From a social science perspective, the diversity and abundance of park users; an increase in outdoor learning and engagement; participation in volunteering; and public satisfaction was gathered to capture the project's impact on local communities and park visitors. The 'natural environment (aquatic)' component was delivered by the Environment Agency with Nick Elbourne, a part-time M.Sc. student at Cranfield University. Geomorphology, river habitat, water quality, macro-invertebrate, macrophyte and fixed point photography data was collected between 2011 and 2013. Some comparative baseline data was available from 2008/2009.

Geomorphology and channel adjustment:
• In summer 2012/ spring 2013, the majority of restored sections showed an increase in the abundance and diversity of habitat and flow types (compared to baseline River Habitat Survey data from 2008 and 2009).
• Low rainfall and below average flows (drought-like conditions) in 2011/12 undoubtedly limited the regrowth of macrophytes (after physical works). The backwater and SUDs in the middle reach were planted up in places by volunteers.
• A scoring method was trialed to score all fixed point photos (before, during and after restoration) on the observed naturalness of habitat and vegetation within the river corridor. The majority of fixed point 'scores' peaked in summer 2012 or spring 2013 after restoration (note: photos were taken on a quarterly basis between spring 2011 and spring 2013).
• There was relatively insignificant change in the topography and chainage of cross-section surveys, collected bi-annually at 12 transects in the middle (6) and lower (6) reaches between autumn 2011 (immediately after new channel excavated) and spring 2012 (eighteen months post works). However there was evidence of evolving in-channel features in parts of the middle reach and natural gravel movements in the upper reach (see Image Gallery).

Lessons learnt

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Image gallery

Jubilee planting event, March 2012 © LBBD
Safer Parks Silver Award 2012 © LBBD
Visualising the project at a public consultation event, 2009 © LBBD
Public consultation event, 2009 © LBBD
Benefits of reduced channel maintenance in the non-restored section of the brook (alongside the sports ground) - a more natural flow regime has led to cleaner gravels and a more sinuous flow path. © Elbourne (Spring 2013)
Restored sinuous channel in the middle reach © Elbourne (Spring 2013)
Environment Agency invertebrate kick-sampling © Elbourne (Autumn 2012)
Increasing flood storage by a hectare (by excavating land) and reconnecting the brook with its natural floodplain has helped to slow the flow. It has also had a beneficial impact in reducing flood peaks downstream © LBBD
The confluence of the restored brook and backwater in the middle reach © Elbourne (Spring 2013)
The lower reach during river restoration works © Elbourne (Autumn 2011)
The middle reach during river restoration works © Elbourne (Autumn 2011
The upper section of the brook before restoration - artificial banks, constrained flow, river disconnected from its floodplain © Elbourne (Spring 2011)
The upper section of the brook after restoration - natural flow regime/processes, vegetated banks, river connected with its floodplain © Elbourne (Autumn 2012)
The upper section of the brook after restoration - run and glide sequence © Elbourne (Autumn 2012)
Evidence of natural processes after restoration (movement of in-channel gravels) © Elbourne (Spring 2013)
Sustainable urban drainage (SUD) pond in middle reach © LBBD (Summer 2012)
Middle reach meander - immediately after restoration (Autumn 2011)
Middle reach meander - a diversification of in-channel features at meander a year after restoration works (Autumn 2012)

Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district Thames
River basin Roding, Beam and Ingrebourne


River name Seven Kings Water
Area category 10 - 100 km²
Area (km2)
Maximum altitude category 100 - 200 m
Maximum altitude (m) 101
101 m
0.101 km
10,100 cm
Dominant geology Calcareous
Ecoregion Great Britain
Dominant land cover Suburban
Waterbody ID GB106037028170

Other case studies in this subcatchment: Blake Avenue, Mayes Brook, County Gardens, Mayes Brook, Fairlop Plain and Fairlop Water, Goodmayes Park, Mayes Brook, Loxford Water, Seven Kings Water


Name Mayesbrook Park
WFD water body codes GB106037028170
WFD (national) typology Low, Small, Calcareous
WFD water body name Seven Kings Water
Pre-project morphology Straightened, Over deepened, Artificial channel
Reference morphology Run-glide, Low gradient passively meandering
Desired post project morphology Sinuous, Low gradient passively meandering, Run-glide
Heavily modified water body Yes
National/international site designation
Local/regional site designations
Protected species present No
Invasive species present No
Species of interest pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), sandpiper/ shank (Tringa sp.), chaffinch, great crested grebe, kingfisher, heron (Ardea sp.)
Dominant hydrology Flashy
Dominant substrate Bedrock, Gravel, Silt
River corridor land use Parklands garden, Urban, Wetland, Scrubland/shrubland, Improved/semi-improved grassland/pasture
Average bankfull channel width category 2 - 5 m
Average bankfull channel width (m)
Average bankfull channel depth category 0.5 - 2 m
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s)
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient
Average unit stream power (W/m2)

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m) 1600
1,600 m
1.6 km
160,000 cm
Project started 2008/01/01
Works started 2011/03/01
Works completed 2012/10/31
Project completed 2011/10/31
Total cost category 1000 - 5000 k€
Total cost (k€) 3800
3,800 k€
3,800,000 €
Benefit to cost ratio £7 benefits for every £1 invested (actual figures, £27m benefits, £3.8m total project cost)
"£" can not be assigned to a declared number type with value 7.
Funding sources London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Environment Agency, Thames Rivers Trust, RSA (insurance), Natural England, Greater London Authority, SITA Trust, London Wildlife Trust, Defra

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Alex Farris
Stakeholder engagement and communication 1 - 10 k€ London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Ruth Taylor
Works and works supervision 1000 - 5000 k€ London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Alex Farris
Post-project management and maintenance 10 - 50 k€ London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Matt Wilson
Monitoring 10 - 50 k€ River Restoration Centre Nick Elbourne

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure Flood risk management, Biodiversity and Habitats
Hydromorphology Channel pattern/planform, Reconnecting floodplain, Quantity & dynamics of flow, Substrate conditions
Biology Fish, Invertebrates, Macrophytes and/or phytobenthos: Average abundance, Birds, Bats
Physico-chemical Water quality
Other reasons for the project Social benefits, Climate change adaptation, Community demand, Landscape enhancement, Recreation


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications Recovering connectivity longitudinal and transversal, Recovery of channel morphology, Adding sinuosity, Creation of pools and riffles, Bank reprofiling
Floodplain / River corridor Floodplain reconnection, Sustainable urban drainage ponds (SUDs), Excavation for floodplain creation, Habitat restoration, Protect/restore riparian zone, Restoring riparian vegetation
Planform / Channel pattern Improvement of channel morphology, Creation of backwater, Reedbed creation, Re-meandering
Non-structural measures
Management interventions Fencing, Monitoring strategy
Social measures (incl. engagement) Awareness raising, Improved public access
Other Public consultation


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative
Channel pattern/planform Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Improvement
Width & depth variation Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Improvement
Quantity & dynamics of flow Yes Yes Yes No No Improvement

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative
Fish Yes No No Yes Yes
Invertebrates Yes Yes No Yes Yes Improvement
Macrophytes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Inconclusive

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative
Bat Survey Yes Yes No Yes No Improvement
Birds, butterflies and dragonflies Yes Yes No Yes No Improvement
Habitat mapping Yes Yes Yes No No Improvement
Public use Yes Yes Yes Yes No Improvement
River Corridor Survey Yes Yes Yes Yes No Awaiting results
Landscape enhancement Yes Yes Yes No No Improvement

Monitoring documents

Additional documents and videos

Additional links and references

Link Description project.html ecosystem assessment The Mayes Brook restoration in Mayesbrook Park, East London: an ecosystem services assessment Environment Agency press release - "The additional benefits of river restoration" Mayesbrook Park - Green Infrastructure Case Study: Creating the UK’s first climate change park in east London Mayesbrook Park - A demonstration site for adapting public green space to cope with the impacts of climate change (June, 2012)

Supplementary Information

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