Waterman's Green Enhancement Proposals Revealed

Published: 04/04/2023 By Allan Fuller

Plans have been submitted by Wandsworth Council to redesign the historic Waterman’s Green area of Putney Embankment to “enhance” its setting within the conservation area. 

Proposals to improve the area include removing the brick boundary wall and railings attached to the Grade II listed wall that forms part of 19th century Putney Bridge, designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette.

Design consultancy Project Centre has also suggested removing the existing entrance steps to Waterman’s Green to create level access, resurfacing the Putney Embankment junction, creating a new landscape within Waterman’s Green with lighting, planting and resurfacing. The embankment wall will be realigned and the existing railings replaced with a balustrade.

Project Centre has previously stated about their plans, “We want to make the area a more pleasant destination for the local community by giving back this section of Putney Embankment to the public, after much of it has been closed off for so long due to Tideway (Thames Tideway Tunnel) and other engineering works in the area.

“We want to transform the area into a small park to provide a relaxing space away from the bustle of the main streets. By creating an accessible, calm, and green space near the Thames for residents and visitors to enjoy, we hope to complement other local projects to improve air quality and pedestrian spaces.”

The council’s application to its own planning committee states that a public consultation exercise undertaken in August and September 2022 involved residents, businesses, and local organisations. Their opinions were used to improve the final design.

The application, which was registered with the council on 24 March, details how Waterman’s Green is an open space of around 1,000m2 on Putney riverside, adjacent to the west side of Putney Bridge. It is formed of ground that was embanked and enclosed as part of the construction of the bridge in 1882–6.

The wing wall which forms the southern boundary of the site was rebuilt on a new alignment around 1909. The area was then densely planted with shrubs and trees and access to the area – re-named Waterman’s Green from Putney Bridge Shrubbery around 2004 - was created via the existing gate and steps.

A ‘Townscape Visual Impact Assessment’ submitted to back the proposal states: “The once-profuse display of trees and shrubs is reduced now to half a dozen trees of various species. As a garden, Waterman’s Green makes a minor contribution to the significance of the bridge and currently offers an opportunity for enhancement of its setting.

“The impact on the significance of the heritage assets will generally be minimal and neutral. Although the location is a sensitive one, the scale of the change is quite minor. The removal of the railings and some of the boundary wall will result in some loss of historic interest for the listed Putney Bridge and Putney Embankment Conservation Area but the new design will be an enhancement to the conservation area.”

A visualisation of the entrance to Waterman's Green. Picture: Project Centre

As well standing within the Putney Embankment Conservation Area, it is also within the Putney Archaeological Priority Area and forms part of the setting of the locally-listed Kenilworth Court. It is one of the few green open spaces in the area.

The assessment added: “No evidence has been found to suggest that Waterman’s Green was an important part of the original bridge design. Rather, it was a left-over space which was considered too small to be open to the public, so it was planted with trees and shrubs instead.

“The proposed development has been designed to integrate Waterman’s Green better with Putney Embankment and the Tideway Platform. Together with the Thai Square building these developments make a positive modern contribution to the local area without harming its predominantly historic character.”

Wandsworth Council is now accepting comments on the proposal, which can be submitted by searching for application number 2023/0550 on the council’s planning explorer.