The Future is Green for Historic Reservoirs!

Groundwork South have been commissioned by Torbay Council to project manage the implementation of an essential flood defence scheme and restoration of an important ecological haven at Westerland Valley Country Park, Paignton.

Over the next few years, Groundwork will be working with Torbay Council, local residents and a range of organisations and businesses to develop a new sustainable Country Park at Westerland Valley.

Located within the Kings Ash ward near the Great Parks Chapel, the 35-acre site is a hidden green gem located on the urban fringe of Paignton however, over a century ago, things would have looked very different. Formally the site of the Paignton Water Works, two large reservoirs were previously constructed in 1875 and 1901 to serve the growing town of Paignton with its fresh drinking water requirements. Today the reservoirs are no more having been drained in the mid-70s and following a period naturalisation, has resulted in the park developing into a haven for wildlife.

Over the next few years, Groundwork will be working to sensitively enhance and revitalise the site by implementing a strategically important flood defence scheme, improving the ecological value of the park and creating more inclusive access and recreational opportunities.

Funded through developer contributions which have been secured specifically to mitigate against the impact of increased surface water drainage flowing into the upper reaches of the Clennon Valley Stream, the new flood defence scheme will seek to implement a variety of natural and engineered flood management solutions to best take advantage of Westerland Valley’s capacity for water retention. Flowing through Westerland Valley, the Clennon Valley Stream travels southwards through Paignton Zoo, where it fills the flamingo lake and helps to keep the gorillas and orangutans enclosed, and then onwards through Clennon Lakes and finally returning to the sea at Goodrington Sands. Once implemented, these new flood management techniques will allow us to utilise the natural topography of Westerland Valley to retain and slow down an additional 3,000,000 litres of water within both the stream and the surrounding landscape, alleviating pressure on the flood defence systems further downstream during peak flows by retaining and gradually dispersing stored flood water once the risk of flooding in the lower catchment has reduced, safeguarding homes and businesses in Paignton.

As well as implementing an important flood defence scheme, the wider works at Westerland Valley will also seek to offer inclusive access across the site, provide natural recreational opportunities, and seek to protect and enhance the ecological value of the area.

Composed of a variety of habitats including semi-improved grassland, scrubland, coniferous and broadleaved woodland, open water, and 2 priority habitats including wet woodland and an abundance of species rich hedgerows, there is already much to be impressed about.

Chris Smith, Countryside Development Manager for Groundwork South, said: “With such a rich diversity of habitats present within the park we are fortunate to have a wide array of plant and animal species utilising this wonderful site. From independent surveys we know we have at least 24 different species of bird’s breeding here including several priority and amber or red conservation status birds including House Sparrow, Song Thrush, Kestrel, Tawny Owl and many more. We also have at least 10 of the 18 UK resident species of bat using the site for either roosting or feeding purposes, including the Greater and Lesser Horseshoe, Pipestrelle and Barbastelle bats, all of which are classified as priority species. The abundance of species rich hedgerows also means we have a large population of Brown Hairstreak Butterfly’s breeding here and within our grassland areas we also have a significant number of slow worms, lizards and many other interesting beetles and insects.”

Liz Muir, Area Programme Manager for Groundwork South, said; “Westerland Valley is such a unique place, with a long and fascinating history. We are really happy to be working with the community to help sensitively transform this park in-line with local aspirations and provide a much-needed recreational resource and wildlife haven”

As part of the rejuvenation works, the Groundwork South team are working closely with local residents, and a range of local community groups, businesses and organisations to ensure the park is developed sensitively and sustainably in-line with local aspirations, needs and desires for the site.

To keep up to date with what’s happening at Westerland Valley follow us through our Facebook page @WesterlandValley or to find out more please contact Christopher Smith, Countryside Development Manager, Groundwork South;

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