QWAG returns to the site of its first major river restoration

It’s not so long ago that if you visited Sutcliffe Park you would never know there was a river running through it.

The restoration of the River Quaggy in Sutcliffe Park – on the Greenwich/Lewisham border – was a major victory for QWAG’s vision of re-naturalised urban rivers helping to cut flood risk.

Before restoration the river ran invisibly, buried in concrete beneath the acres of feature-less grass.

QWAG persuaded the authorities that the last thing the area needed to cut flood risk was to put more of the river in concrete.

The river has been brought above ground to revive Sutcliffe Park, to improve conditions for nature – bats and birds especially enjoying the new insect and plant life to be found – and to help control flood risk.

5 years on from the restoration QWAG returned to see how the river is settling down.

The river runs into a new freshwater lake over which bats can be seen hunting insects on the wing.

And as the river flows into the park it is putting down sediment and this will influence the kind of habitat, plants and water life that take up residence.

People are enjoying seeing this habitat take shape and it’s great seeing children play happily and safely in and close to the river.

People enjoying the restored River Quaggy in Sutcliffe Park

People enjoying the restored River Quaggy in Sutcliffe Park

Is it working?
We’ll also keep watch on is whether the concrete sluice is working as intended. A lot of money and effort has gone in to making the new flood control work and we need this and the re-naturalisation of the river to work.

It was a worry that the level of water in the park was so high that the paths and seating areas were being lapped by several inches of water.

We also spotted that the mouth of the sluice was blocked with lots of debris.

This suggests that the design of the sluice could be being compromised with lots of rubbish and debris inside the concrete channel.

This needs addressing if the investment in the work so far is not to be compromised.

Make a splash without getting wet!