Following a year of public consultation and a further year of development, the Royal Parks secured nearly £1.5 million from the Heritage Lottery (HLF) and Big Lottery Funds to deliver a number of improvements to Isabella Plantation. A generous grant of £120,000 was also received from the SITA Trust to fund the ponds and streams component of the project. Additional funding has come from a wide range of organisations and individual donations. Without this financial support and active involvement from a huge number of people and partners, this project could not have taken place.
Working with a community Steering Group and partner organisations, plans were developed to retain the unique character of the Isabella Plantation. The aims were to enhance biodiversity and to increase access to Isabella.
- Isabella Plantation Access Project Master Plan (PDF 6605.3 KB)
- Isabella Plantation Access Project Before and After (PDF 5107.6 KB)
On this page:
- January to March 2012 - Refurbishment of Toilet Block
- January to March 2013 - Ponds and Streams
- October 2013 to August 2014 - Infrastructure and Access Work
- Community activities
- Green Technology - Building for Sustainability
- Activity and event publicity
- Activity Reports
- Major HLF Scheme Reports
- Visitor Surveys
January to March 2012 - Refurbishment of Toilet Block
The first stage of physical work was to refurbish the seasonal toilet block at Camellia Walk, creating a fully accessible facility.
January to March 2013 - Ponds and Streams
The second stage of work for the project was probably the most intrusive for Isabella visitors and related to Isabella's ponds and streams.
Removal of fish from Peg's and Thomson's Pond was carried out in November 2012 by Bedwell Fisheries Services in advance of draining the ponds. During the wet and muddy winter of 2013, contractors Salix Bioengineering drained and desilted the ponds, extended Peg's Pond, planted reed beds to create new environments for wildlife, cleared streams and constructed boardwalks for visitors to view the pond.
Gardeners and volunteers cut back azaleas and removed royal fern and skunk cabbage to allow more light in stream channels. The Isabella horticultural volunteers and gardeners will continue to remove and control invasive species. Additional planting of native species along margins has taken place where appropriate. This work has been essential to the long term health of the Plantation's plants, although some, especially the removal of Rhododendon ponticum initially left the Plantation looking rather scarred in places, however before many months elapsed, this work could be seen to have resulted in healthier plants and a more beautiful woodland.
October 2013 to August 2014 - Infrastructure and Access Work
In late 2013, Blakedown Landscapes commenced work on a series of improvements to infrastructure and access.
This work included:
- Creating an irrigation system that is not reliant on mains water.
- Upgrading the path network to create more accessible routes.
- Upgrading bridges and making gates more accessible
- Installing new benches
- Upgrading Peg's Pond (disabled visitors') car park and access road
- Installing interpretation and directional signage
- Constructing a new sustainable toilet block and shelter adjacent to the Peg's Pond gate. This is made of green oak and screened by planting. It is provided with off grid power and heated by a biomass boiler. The toilets themselves are low water composting.
A Partnership and Community Engagement Officer was employed to work with local charities, schools and user groups to develop walks, talks, volunteer schemes, conservation opportunities, and new resources. A wide range of volunteering opportunities were created, and programmes have been developed with community groups. If you want to bring your group, become a volunteer or plan a special event, we would be happy to help.
Green Technology - Building for Sustainability
Sustainability has been at the heart of the improvements to Isabella with help from the Heritage and Big Lottery Funds. The project has included a new irrigation system for Isabella which is not reliant on mains water, but the most significant aspect of sustainable technology is associated with the new green oak toilet block at Peg's Pond Gate.
The toilets designed for this building are unique to a garden this size. They are not connected to mains sewage and have been designed as a low water, no flush system. This does not use water to flush the toilets and we only have wash basins in the accessible and baby changing cubicles, instead using anti-bacterial gel dispensers to clean hands.
Waste is collected in large tanks below ground but at a much slower rate than a conventional cesspit. Some fluid from urinals and the low volume taps in the accessible cubicles will also drain into the tanks and will ensure that the waste is fluid enough to pump out when necessary. The reduction in the amount of water flowing into these tanks from taps and flushing reduces the volume of waste and the frequency of tank emptying, making this system a low cost and low carbon alternative to conventional cesspit tanked toilet systems.
With a standard flush system a single flush can use 6.5 litres (just under 1.5 gallons) of water for modern flush systems, more for older cisterns. Hence the amount of waste that has to be stored and then removed builds up rapidly. For example, the older toilet in the Plantation near Still Pond does have a flushing system which empties into a cesspit and in busy periods this has to be emptied weekly.
Our commitment to sustainable technology extends to other aspects of the building, with off grid solutions provided for heat and power. An LPG generator charges batteries providing the power for lighting and control of a biomass boiler, which heats hot water for radiators and the sinks within the disabled cubicles. Logs cut within the Plantation and Park provide the fuel for this boiler and a highly efficient block work structure behind oak cladding provides the main source of insulation for the building.
Activity and event publicity
- We want your memories - August 2013 (PDF 360.79 KB)
- Let us help you get to Isabella - March 2014 (PDF 181.8 KB)
- Guided walks of the Isabella Plantation - March 2014 (PDF 263.46 KB)
- Isabella Plantation Open Day - September 2014 (PDF 4597.55 KB)
- The Isabella Plantation 60th Birthday Celebration - Activity Report - August 2013 (PDF 43.18 KB)
- Transport Trials 2 and 3 - Activity Report - 3 and 23 August 2013 (PDF 42.02 KB)
- A Summary to Royal Parks; Groundwork London, involving young people in the HLF Way Marking Project - September 2013 (PDF 2008.7 KB)
Major HLF Scheme Reports
- Isabella Plantation Access Project - Summary of Public Consultation (PPT 6909 KB)
- Isabella Plantation Access Project - Activity Plan (PDF 7781.85 KB)
- Isabella Plantation Access Project - Conservation Management Plan (PDF 5152.43 KB)
- Isabella Plantation Access Project - Landscape and Building Design (PDF 2925.05 KB)
- Isabella Plantation Access Project - Habitat and Health of Plants Survey (PDF 3715.01 KB)
- Isabella Plantation Access Project - Management and Maintenance Plan (PDF 7189.05 KB)
- Visitors Survey and Observation Summary 2012 (DOCX 100.47 KB)
- Visitors Survey and Observation Summary 2013 (DOC 504.5 KB)