North Cardiff reservoirs to become hubs for health and wellbeing

Two reservoirs in Cardiff will be transformed into nature-based health and wellbeing hubs for the public after securing almost one million pounds in funding.

This is the latest chapter in what has been a turbulent history for the reservoirs. Source: Reservoir Action Group

The Lisvane and Llanishen reservoirs will receive a £930,000 grant from the Welsh Government that will be used to boost wildlife and reconnect people with the area.  

The reservoirs, located in the North Cardiff residential area, are currently undergoing major restoration work after being threatened with housing development over a 15-year period during which one of them was drained.

Under the new funding, they will be made more ecologically resilient – improving the habitat for local wildlife and migratory birds – and linked to green infrastructure so people can use them as part of the Government’s ‘Enabling Natural Resources and Wellbeing (ENRaW)’ Scheme.

“Bringing the reservoirs back into use will create a real asset for the people of Cardiff and this funding is an important step on that road,” said Cllr Peter Bradbury, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport.

“Once work is completed the reservoirs will provide significant health and wellbeing opportunities for residents and importantly, by linking up with other local green spaces, they will also give a real boost to wildlife and biodiversity in Cardiff.”

Llanishen Reservoir was drained of its water in 2010 and on several occasions thereafter. Source: Google Maps

The reservoirs are currently controlled by Welsh Water, a not for profit utility company which took over the sites in 2016. They put forward the funding bid along with the Reservoir Action Group (RAG), Cardiff Council and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

Reservoir Action Group campaigned against the reservoir’s former owner, Western Power Distribution, who attempted to develop on the Llanishen Reservoir before their plans were blocked by the Welsh Government in 2013.

Richard Cowie, Chairman of the Reservoir Action Group, said: “As a group that battled for over 15 years to save the reservoirs from a housing development, we are delighted to be working in partnership with Welsh Water to ensure that this historically and ecologically important site is enjoyed and protected for generations to come.”

The reservoirs are part of two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for wintering wildfowl and grassland fungi. They also incorporate a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC).

Redshanks and greenshanks are two of the passing migratory birds which use the reservoirs. Source: Pixabay

A variety of animals live there including water birds, otters, butterflies and bats. Conservation areas and a learning zone will be created as part of the grant along with foot paths and bird hides.

Cheryl Williams, Principal Health Promotion Specialist at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said the board were pleased to be part of the project and noted the health benefits.

“A range of community groups will be able to use the reservoirs and surrounding paths for walking, watersports and enjoying the natural environment and this will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the health and well-being of individuals,” she said.

“Local residents will be able to use this facility as part of a social prescribing approach to health improvement, with links being made across a number of existing projects.”