Crowdfunder for East London’s first wild swimming pond reaches important milestone – Hackney Citizen

The land the charity is hoping to buy up. Photograph: East London Waterworks Park

A crowdfunder for London’s first community-owned natural swimming pond has reached a major milestone, hitting the 40 per cent mark of its £500,000 target.

A volunteer-led charity is hoping to set up the East London Waterworks Park (ELWP) by buying a defunct Thames Water depot, spanning a vast 5.68 hectares, and transforming it.

If successful, it would be the first wild swimming spot to be created in the capital since Hampstead Ponds in 1777.

The crowdfunder raised £100,000 in its first few days, and has now reached close to £220,000. The charity needs £1 million in total for the ambitious project, but is hoping to raise the second £500k through corporate donations and grants.

Abigail Woodman, chair and volunteer at ELWP, said: “We want this concrete-covered depot to, once more, play its part in supporting the health and well-being of the local community.

“The landowner has identified the site for disposal. We need your support to raise £1 million through crowdfunding to help us buy the site.

“Having access to green and blue spaces makes people mentally healthier according to a significant body of academic research, and we will be creating a brand-new place for people to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy the myriad health benefits of wild swimming.

“It will be a wonderful place to walk, swim and hang out, listen to the birds and watch the bees.”

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An impression of ELWP’s plans for the site. Image: East London Waterworks Park

According to ELWP, the ponds would cover around 5,000 square metres, allowing more than 1,000 people to swim there every day for free.

With around 40 per cent of young people in Waltham Forest and Hackney living in poverty and the cost of living on a steep incline, this would represent a significant opportunity for those who can’t access paid leisure facilities.

The surrounding park is set to become a large community rewilding plot – the biggest bought from the government so far – where rare species would be encouraged to make the park their home.

Space would also be made for scientific research, arts, and a make-and-repair cafe.

The charity has produced a business plan, an inclusivity research report and pre-feasibility report – the project even has in-principle backing from the London Mayor’s office and numerous local institutions.

If you’d like to donate, or find out more about the project, visit the crowdfunding page here.

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