Lee Valley Regional Park

Park Development Framework

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A Productive Landscape

Where are we now?

Food production

With its fertile loam soils, irrigation and river access to London markets, the Lea Valley has an illustrious history of food production; by 1930, for example, the Lea Valley had the world’s largest concentration of glasshouses, producing over half of Britain’s total horticultural output.


Food production has greatly decreased since, but it still remains an important role for the valley.


The Lee Valley Farms provide both a commercial dairy and arable farm unit, and a visitor attraction and education resource. These farms also support biodiversity with a range of habitats within the farms themselves, and by providing lifestock which graze areas throughout the Park and help maintain grassland and wet meadow habitats.


Commercial food production remains a significant land use in the Park, particularly through glass house operations and other farming operations to the north of the Park.


Community led food production in the form of allotments are located at a number of sites within the Park.

Biomass and biofuels

The material that can be used as fuel to generate energy is known as biomass and biofuel. There is currently no significant production of biomass or biofuels within the Park. However a number of initial feasibility studies are currently being undertaken to assess the potential role of the Park for future production.

Sand and gravel extraction

The Lee Valley has been a source for sand and gravel throughout the 20th century. Many of the old sites have been filled with water, and are now part of the extensive network of water bodies that characterise the north of the Park. Sand and gravel extraction has declined in recent years, with no extraction work currently in operation.

What do we want to achieve?

  • For the Park to continue to function as a productive landscape.
  • For production to be part of the visitor destination; creating and maintaining ecologically valuable habitats and landscapes, and providing opportunities for recreation, social and community activities.

Food production

We want the Park to continue to provide food for the region in a way that does not compromise the delivery of the wider objectives of the Park.


We want to continue to develop and manage the Lee Valley Farms so that a broad range of benefits are delivered - with food production being a significant component.


We also want the Park to continue to offer a range of allotment and community based food production opportunities. We recognise that there are a wide range of benefits arising from these activities over and above the production of food, including social and community and biodiversity benefits.

Biomass and bio fuels

We want the Park to play a future role in the production of biomass and biofuels. We believe this can be achieved by utilising waste or byproducts from Park activities in particular from the enhanced management of existing landscapes, habitats and facilities rather than through the introduction of short rotation crops or coppice management.

Sand and gravel extraction

We want the park to continue to provide sand and gravel resources where the extraction works do not compromise the delivery of the wider objectives of the Park. Post extraction restoration should enhance the Park offer.

How will we deliver?

On our estate

Food Production

We will:

  • Undertake substantial evaluation of the current role of Lee Valley Farms within the Park, and our wider offer. We will aim to identify an optimum balance between its commercial role as a food production enterprise and the other values and benefits offered. These include:
    • Visitor attractions
    • Education resources
    • Landscape and landscape management tools
    • Biodiversity value
    • Recreation/leisure uses
    • Environmental infrastructure uses
  • Retain our existing allotments and explore opportunities for new community led food production opportunities. Initiatives should demonstrate delivery of regional value and should be accessible to all visitors.

Biomass and biofuel

We will:

  • Explore opportunities, issues and implications for the production of biomass and biofuels from our estate, provided that such production will:
    • Not compromise other Park functions or values (e.g. biodiversity, recreation, route network, landscape etc).
    • Where ever possible deliver multiple merits over and above the identified energy production benefit
    • Be 100% partner funded in relation to both implementation and long term management, except where:
      • Proposals relate entirely to our estate or facilities, or where
      • Other benefits associated with the developments warrant our contribution.
  • Implement, where viable and appropriate, biomass and biofuel production measures. These will include:
    • Husbandry of open space areas for production of useable biomass, especially woodland areas and meadow land.
    • Short to medium term programmes of scrub/ woodland clearance as appropriate; harvesting small wood biomass and re-establishing meadow/wet meadow to help deliver our aim and objectives for biodiversity.
    • Biodigestion facility utilising combined waste stream from Lee Valley Farms (dairy herd slurry) and Lee valley Growers (green waste from vegetable production) to produce biofuel.

Sand and gravel extraction

We will

  • Explore opportunities, issues and implications for sand and gravel extraction from our estate, provided that such extraction will:
    • Not compromise other Park functions or values (e.g. biodiversity, recreation, route network, landscape etc).
    • Where ever possible deliver multiple benefits over and above the production of sand and gravel material.

Working with others

Food production

We will

  • Develop a strong partnership offer with commercial operators (both within Park boundaries and beyond) in order to maximise the range of benefits and values offered alongside food production. This will include:
    • Developing, marketing and promoting a strong Lee Valley produce brand together.
    • Establishing joint retail opportunities for Lee Valley produce (e.g. local markets,farmers markets, farm shops etc).
    • Developing coordinated and integrated opportunities for visitor attractions, recreational and leisure visits and learning.
  • Work with other landowners to explore opportunities for new community led food production initiatives. These should demonstrate delivery of regional value and open access for all.
  • Ensure that potential and actual impact of commercial food production on the Park (e.g. affect on landscape, route network, fauna and flora, sustainability etc) is mitigated wherever possible.
  • Resist development of further commercial food production within the Park, except where potential and actual impact on other Park uses can be fully mitigated.

Biomass, biofuels and sand and gravel

  • We will work with others to explore opportunities, issues and implications for the production of biomass and biofuels, and for the extraction of sand and gravel within the Park. Such production should:
    • Not compromise other Park functions or values (e.g. biodiversity, recreation, route network, landscape etc).
    • Where ever possible deliver multiple benefits over and above the identified energy production benefit.

Productive landscape

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