The majority of the works on the Highgate Chain are focused around Model Boating Pond. This pond was chosen as the pond to concentrate the work for a number of reasons:
- Its location in the middle of the Highgate Chain makes it a good place to store extra water – it can store the water coming from the ponds above it, and is far enough away from the end of the chain where the risk of overtopping and dam failure has the biggest consequence to the communities south of the Heath.
- It’s currently the most municipal-looking pond on the Heath – with hard sheet metal piling around all sides. The final design will soften these hard edges, re-profile the pond to a more natural shape and introduce more aquatic planting which benefit wildlife.
- It’s located in-between two hills, which means by building up a dam at the southern end of the pond – 2m higher and in front of the existing dam – there is a natural bowl created which can hold water in the case of an extreme flooding event. This water is then released in a more controlled manner after the peak of the flood has passed.
A 2m high dam is to be created using clay found in the borrow pits (located to the west of the pond within the large work compound) and from the western edge of the pond which will be excavated and re-profiled leaving an island (linked by a causeway) – which saves a group of mature trees.
The following before and after plans give an indication of the change in shape of the pond.
You can view, and zoom in on, the PDF of the second image here:Model Boating Pond – environmental masterplan
The new 2m high dam will be made of clay and then covered in topsoil and grass and profiled to fit into the landscape around it. There will be a path on top of it, as well as a path by the pond-side and the existing path which runs along the causeway between Model Boating Pond and Men’s Bathing Pond will remain. The following artist impressions give an indication of what the pond will look like after the works.
A spillway is to be created in the south-east corner of the pond (marked in green in the above ‘after’ plan). This channel will be made of reinforced grass turf and in the event of a large flood, will allow water to safely leave the pond, and travel down to Men’s Bathing Pond, without over-topping and potentially causing damage to the dam.
Following the work, water quality will improve in the pond due to a combination of improved aeration and an increase in aquatic vegetation. The latter will provide good habitat for nesting birds, amphibians and fish and will also help oxygenate the water.
This pond will continue to be used for angling and model boating, and visitors will be able to enjoy the pond with additional paths on the island and around the southern end of the pond.
Work started here in April and will continue until summer 2016.