The sight of the deteriorating state of the Ornamental lake in Wanstead Park has caused much concern.

The water drained out of most of it over the summer, with a variety of vegetation now growing in the space.

Trees have fallen from the bank across the area that used to contain water. There is also a variety of rubbish strewn around.

The loss of water from the lake has been an ongoing problem over the years. Even at time of flooding, when the lake filled and overflowed, the retention level was not good.

Within three months most of the gain had been lost. So there is a basic problem with water retention.

However, it has been known for more than a decade there are ongoing problems with the waterways of the park. In 2009, the park was put on the English Heritage at risk register, specifically in relation to the waterways - it remains there.

Somewhat ironically, during the interim period there was considered to be a flood risk, involving the River Roding and the park.

The Corporation of London were required under a statutory duty to address the issue. More than £10 million was earmarked to do the work

Since then though, further investigations have revealed that more moderate work needs to be done, costing much less.

The £10 million has evaporated with the water.

There are efforts being made to find ways of sourcing more water to the lakes, though delays continue.

The City of London Corporation, which takes care of the area, have been struggling to get a backlog of jobs done dating back to the pandemic. They have lost staff, which have to be replaced. All the time, the work mounts up.

The worry must be that empty lakes, like the Ornamental, become normalised as part of a pattern of overall deterioration.

This cannot be allowed to happen. Wanstead Park and Flats form an incredibly important part of the biodiversity of the area. They are much loved and need careful management and nurturing.

A big effort is needed now to retain the integrity of this precious green lung in our area. It cannot be allowed to just deteriorate. The lakes need restoring to their former glory.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See