In 2016, the Streetscene Technical Support team at East Dunbartonshire Council developed a naturalisation project at Whitefield Pond and Lade in Lennoxtown. The lade is an artificial watercourse constructed in the early 19th century to provide a supply of clean water to the Lennox Mills Printworks.

Today the pond is a popular recreational area used by the community of Lennoxtown, anglers and visitors. The area includes a man-made pond, fed by the lade, and surrounded by amenity grass, shrub area and native woodland planting.

The Lade before and after

Drivers for naturalisation

  • A key driver was the deterioration of the lade. This comprised in part an asbestos-clad wall which was damaged and leaking, with water running out onto the lower ground at times of high flow, causing erosion and flooding. The lade did not function well during flash floods, with a deep (500mm) layer of silt on the bed of the lade and a delta of silt fanning out into the pond.
  • The Council’s Open Space Strategy and Local Biodiversity Action Plan  promote the creation of wildflower corridors. The banks of the lade had little marginal vegetation and being straight and man-made had limited biodiversity value. 
  • Residents wanted the silt fanning rectified and asked for the pond to be drained. SEPA, who were involved in initial investigations on how to deal with the issue, advised that draining the pond and any silt removal would negatively impact on many species living in the pond. Lade improvement and naturalisation were devised as an alternative solution with more benefits, including a positive impact on existing and future habitats.

What has been delivered?

The existing straight lade, which ran for 125 metres into the pond, has been recreated as a more natural feature by re-profiling its banks and lining the new watercourse with blue clay. Shelves were created and planting with a variety of native aquatic and emergent wetland plants. The steepest section by the silt trap was landscaped with native wildflower turf to ensure quick and successful establishment. Plants were supplied as large blocks of local provenance single species. Watercourse, marginal and wildflower meadow habitats have been created. The meadows include planted yellow rattle, with naturalised common spotted orchid and broad-leaved helleborine orchids. 

Two entrances to the pond were upgraded to include a new entrance wall, the paths were upgraded around the site and the main wall was repointed and repaired. The area now forms an enhanced wildlife corridor connecting the pond to the road, and on to Balgrochan Marsh at the foot of the Campsie Hills.

More technical info

Communication and engagement

Before any work began, a public consultation was held. Direct communication with the Community Council and Whitefield Pond Working Group was maintained as work progressed. There was a mixed response to the consultation. The community were very positive about improving the lade and removing the asbestos, but disappointed that part of the work involved removing a footbridge that could not be replaced. This was an issue as it changed access routes within the park. Accessible path improvements were made on either side of the lade. Concerns were also raised while stabilisation of the watercourse was being carried out, as levels of the pond dropped. The Council undertook stonework to ensure the watercourse levels would not negatively impact the pond. Anglers were concerned about access for fishing due to increased vegetation.

Volunteer activity included primary school pupils getting involved in planting with support from Mugdock Countryside Rangers. Clyde River Foundation were involved in fish rescue during the work to drain the lade. During 2021, Butterfly Conservation Scotland  volunteers sowed yellow rattle seed into the new meadow areas and hosted a community session about the butterflies and other species making their home in the native wildflower meadows.

Benefits from the project

A more naturalised and attractive open space has been created, transforming a deteriorating asset into a higher quality habitat for local biodiversity, along with the strengthening of a wildlife corridor. Kingfishers can now be spotted on the lade, while swans and ducks swim up the naturalised channel. Nesting waterfowl, breeding amphibian and odonatan (dragonflies and damselflies) habitat has been created through small pools in the emergent/reed bed area.

Anthony McCluskey, Butterfly Conservation Scotland said

The meadow at Whitefield Pond is an amazing place for wildlife like butterflies and bees. They all depend upon the rich diversity of wildflowers there.

The site was already very well used, as it had links to a path network and the cemetery, and use remains high. Levels of anti-social behaviour and graffiti are low and there is strong community pride in the greenspace.

Issues and challenges

The presence of asbestos was a major factor in how the Council redeveloped the site. The area also had a large amount of made ground (ground composed primarily or significantly of manmade material) and so a substantial amount of clay and block planting was required to maintain the integrity of the watercourse. The project uncovered a network of pipes that needed to be checked prior to sealing or capping. Initial excavation, preparation and planting was complex due to the levels of mud on site. There were issues with swans eating the newly planted materials and plug plants!

Learning and advice

More extensive, early stage ground investigations are important when working on post-industrial sites to avoid unexpected issues arising during the delivery. Using wildflower turf enabled quicker establishment of meadows and wildflower areas.

For information on other urban naturalised parks and greenspace projects look at the Lyne Burn river restoration project in Dunfermline, Dundee's biodiversity-rich meadows and grasslands, the native wildflower meadows connecting Edinburgh's coastline and NatureScot's Wilding our Parks case studies

Thanks to Gillian Telfer, Greenspace & Streetscene Manager, and Jackie Gillespie, Streetscene Project Officer East Dunbartonshire Council for providing information and assistance, and to NatureScot for the funding to create this as part of a series of naturalised management case studies.