Case Study - Lakeside
Lakeside Shopping Centre in West Thurrock is an odd place, a place of extreme contrasts. Situated immediately behind buildings filled with the hustle and bustle of manic shoppers, lies the body of water from which the centre derived its name. Here peace and tranquillity prevails against a backdrop of frenzied activity. Different as chalk from cheese.
This is very apt as the lake, which spans nearly 25 acres, was formally part of a large chalk quarry. The walls of the quarry can still be seen on two sides of Lakeside’s boundary.
Crayfish are very abundant and can often be seen in the crystal clear shallows. Average water depth is 15 feet with its deepest point at just over 40 feet.
The lake holds a good head of predatory fish with pike weighing up to 38lb, perch to 4lb and large catfish; other species include roach, tench and crucian carp.
Activities carried out on the water include scuba diving, sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and fishing from either boat or bank. A diving and water sports centre is situated at one end of the lake.
Elm Horticulture Ltd started work around the lake in January 2007. The bank sides were completely overgrown and the trees in desperate need of attention.
The first job was to cut back, thin out and in same cases remove the vegetation and scrub thus affording an unrestricted view across the lake and letting in valuable light to encourage new plant growth. Next the trees, mainly poplars, alders and hybrid willows were addressed. Deadwood was removed, branches reduced and tree canopies raised. The resulted arisings were chipped on site and the bark used as a mulch in suitable areas. Branches were cut into various lengths for the building of log piles. These would provide extra habitat for beetles and insects.
Several large areas were left untouched to provide the existing wildlife with a sanctuary whilst work was carried out. It was later decided that these areas would remain untouched indefinitely. Twenty fishing swims, consisting of sleepers for steps and bays, were then built. For this task hand tools were used throughout ensuring minimal bank side disturbance. Finally a new pathway was laid and a three bar fence erected along the pathways length. Work was completed in July 2007.
Elm Horticulture Ltd has recently carried out a plant survey around the lake and within the boundary that constitutes ‘Lakeside’. Eighty-seven wild flowering plant species have been identified. Most of these have been photographed and include bee and pyramidal orchids.
Nesting birds include kingfishers (1 pair), great crested grebes (1 pair producing one chick) and canada geese (4 pairs producing twenty-three chicks between them)!
Goldfinches can often be seen feeding on teasels and the lake has also attracted over wintering chiffchaffs. And of course there is the solitary resident heron!
Elm Horticulture Ltd continues to oversee and maintain the lake and hopefully the bank side renovation will soon produce dividends in the form of increased wild plant growth.
Elm Horticulture has been working for Lakeside Shopping Centre for the past 5 years carrying out landscaping and environmental projects. We recently won the contract for the external and internal ground maintenance and are looking forward to developing our relationship with the owners (CSC) and the management team (GBM) in line with Elms Quality/Environmental & Health & Safety accreditations.
Elm is currently undertaking an environmental habitat survey of the entire site with the help of Essex Wildlife Trust with the purpose of developing a Biodiversity Action Plan for Lakeside. Similar schemes being developed on other contracts at Canary Wharf for DLR have had great success and identified many protected and unusual species.