New Nature Reserve 1

A new nature reserve takes shape: residents hope to restore and improve the Northcote Avenue Recreation Ground, aka the ‘Pit Park’.

Residents are hoping to transform the Northcote Avenue Recreation Ground, known locally as the ‘Pit Park’, into a landscaped area and nature reserve. Although just within the borough of Hounslow, the park faces Richmond across the River Crane, the middle of which marks the borough boundary. For this reason it has always been used by residents of North St Margarets as well as their Hounslow neighbours, being for many their nearest open space.

Originally a recreation ground for the Worple estate, the park has since deteriorated and is now used mainly by dog walkers. Working with Hounslow Council, a new residents’ group, Friends of Northcote Nature Reserve have drawn up an outline proposal for the space and residents are currently being consulted for feedback.

The landscaping plan was created by local resident Dean Griffiths, Architect at Astronaut Kawada, whose garden backs onto the park. It includes improved signage, entrance and pathways, a wildflower meadow and a habitat for wildlife along the neighbouring River Crane. The overall aim is to make it a space that can be enjoyed by the whole community.

For Friends group Chair Vanessa Smith this is a welcome opportunity to breath new life into this currently neglected space:“Our aim is to create something really special for local people and wildlife.”

Local tradition states that the open space was once a Victorian rubbish dump, hence its ‘Pit Park’ nickname. Ponies were grazed on the land in 2014 but were moved to another part of the borough at the end of 2015. Since then, the space has been closed pending rolling and reseeding by Hounslow Council once the weather is drier.

The park is next to the tidal stretch of the River Crane, designated a Site of Metropolitan Importance for its biodiversity and, in particular, its rare aquatic plants. As the Crane marks the boundary between Richmond and Hounslow boroughs, the project will include residents from both boroughs.

The results of the consultation will be discussed at a forthcoming public meeting and the Friends group hopes to work with other local and national environmental groups to bring the project to fruition, including the Environment Agency, London Wildlife Trust and Thames 21.