Bridge works at Camley Street Natural Park

Camley Street Natural ParkCamley Street Natural Park

A new bridge is being constructed across The Regent’s Canal as part of the ongoing development of the King’s Cross area. The bridge will pass over the northern tip of the reserve, connecting the new development area with surrounding neighbourhoods on the west side of the canal.

Will Camley Street Natural Park close?

Camley Street Natural Park will remain open and accessible to the public during bridge works, although there may be occasional days when the site has to close. This will be avoided if at all possible and we will do our best to advertise any such days in advance.

During the construction of the new Visitor and Learning Centre, currently scheduled to start in late 2017, the site will be temporarily closed to public access.

Why are workers wearing protective suits?

As bridge works commence, potentially contaminated soil is being removed from the construction site. Camley Street Natural Park was created on a brownfield site (an ex-industrial site) and there are low levels of contamination under the surface of the soil, including asbestos. This is being dug up and removed from the site by specialists and there is no risk to the public. The rest of the site is safe to explore and enjoy.

As a designated Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation, shouldn’t Camley Street Natural Park be protected?

Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) have some protection under planning policy, but this does not provide absolute legal protection. Other needs (schools, housing or transport infrastructure for example) can outweigh the need to protect a SINC from loss or damage. However, adverse impacts on a SINC need to be mitigated and the Trust has worked with the developer, Argent, and Camden Council to minimise the damage caused to the Park.

Why didn’t the Trust object to the building of the bridge?

The new bridge will encourage more people to visit Camley Street Natural Park, where they will learn about wildlife and gain a greater understanding of the need to protect nature in London and across the world.

Following completion of the bridge the Trust is planning to construct a new Visitor and Learning Centre, to replace the current buildings, which are now over 30 years old and no longer fit for purpose. This will help us to engage and inspire future generations in the importance of nature and wildlife in an urban environment.

The Trust has recently agreed a new 25 year lease with London Borough of Camden (owner of the site) and we are keen to ensure that the reserve grows stronger as the King’s Cross area develops and grows.

When will bridge works be complete?

Works will run until spring 2017.

Will the bridge impact on wildlife?

London Wildlife Trust has met with the bridge developer Argent and their architects over the past three years with the aim of refining the design, both to minimise impacts to Camley Street Natural Park and to maximise benefits for wildlife. This has included commenting on bridge design, placement, lighting issues (e.g. in relation to bats), security and advising on planting around and on the bridge support.

The bridge will initially be closed at night and will be monitored by 24 hour CCTV, connected to King’s Cross security.

Won’t more visitors impact on the wildlife of the reserve?

The Trust is aware of the potential of more visitors putting pressure on the reserve’s wildlife, and as such we have worked closely with the bridge designers on bridge placement and direction of travel. The planned Visitor and Learning Centre at Camley Street Natural Park – together with a redesign of parts of the reserve – will make it easier for us to manage visitors and protect the biodiversity in key areas and at key times.

Is the Trust being reimbursed in any way for losing part of the reserve?

The Trust has negotiated a Section 106 payment (from Argent and held by LB Camden) that will be used to help finance the construction of a new visitor and learning centre at Camley Street Natural Park.

The current visitor centre is over 30 years old and urgently needs to be replaced if the Trust is to continue to provide enjoyable and educational experiences to the 15-20,000 children and adults who visit Camley Street Natural Park each year, with numbers expected to rise.