Sir David Attenborough has opened the Woodberry Wetlands to the public for the first time in its 200 year history after it was saved from dereliction.
The 11-hectare nature reserve is at the heart of the Woodberry Downs regeneration in Stoke Newington which has launched a new phase, the Nature Collection, offering a selection of one, two and three-bedroom apartments and penthouses next to the nature reserve.
It has been restored thanks to a £230,000 contribution from developer Berkeley Homes in partnership with London Wildlife Trust.
Berkeley Group chairman Tony Pidgley said it was proud to have helped uncover the “hidden gem”.
Trust patron Sir David, said:“I have spent 70 years witnessing disaster and trying to avert catastrophe in the natural world; we continue to lose so much that is precious, so it is marvellous to be here at Woodberry Wetlands and see the reverse – we should celebrate that.
“Above all, this is an important legacy for our children.”
Created in 1833 as a reservoir for drinking water the site fell into disrepair. In the 1980s was identified as a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation and in 2010 the trust began work to convert it to a nature reserve, with help from volunteers.
Today it is home to newly planted reed beds and hedgerow, wildflower meadows and fruit trees, which create a haven for bees, butterflies, other insects and birds, including the great crested grebe which was almost extinct 150 years ago.
London Wildlife Trust’s chief executive Gordon Scorer said: “The rebirth of this reservoir, in the midst of one of London’s biggest housing regeneration projects, as a free-to-visit, natural resource, bringing nature within reach of a huge urban audience, demonstrates that nature, and all its benefits, can be successfully woven into the fabric of London, and other cities, as they develop and grow.”
The centre is free to visit and will be running a year round programme of culture, education and volunteering events.