Richmond Lakes and Whisby


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  • Overview
    Richmond Lakes and Whisby Character Area comprises former flooded gravel pits and open ground to the southwest of Lincoln. The area is largely bounded by the A46, Newark Road and Whisby Road with an additional smaller part lying to the west of Station Road.
    There are few elements of the Character Area’s historical development surviving in the current landscape and these include the line of a railway from the Post-Railway Expansion Period [1846 – 1868 AD], former 19th century field and parish boundaries, 18th and 19th century plantations and modern quarries.
    The Character Area is dominated by former gravel workings which have been subsequently flooded. They are used for a number of recreational pursuits, namely fishing and sailing, as well as a nature reserve. One pit is being actively infilled with furnace waste.
    There are no roads within the Character Area and as a result the area is quiet, apart from traffic noise which carries from the adjacent A46. There are good footpath links around some lakes, particularly those belonging to Whisby Nature Reserve. There are few buildings within the Character Area, the majority of which are for light industrial use and are functional in appearance. They are medium to large in size and occupy large plots. One small housing development has occurred adjacent to Richmond Lakes and consists of modern 2 and 3 storey buildings set around a series of branching cul-de-sacs.
    There is a low sense of enclosure due to areas of open water and space. However, boundaries associated with the areas of former gravel pits, as well as those around light industrial buildings, are distinct and include security fencing and hedges, preventing movement across parts of the area and generating a feeling of inaccessibility.
    The Nottingham to Lincoln railway crosses the Character Area roughly west to east, forming an almost impermeable boundary with few crossing points. This was the first railway line into Lincoln, in 1846, and is still in operation.
    Overall, there is a wide variety of wildlife habitats and vegetation including wetland, water, grassland and trees, some of which are actively managed.
    Views within the Character Area are often limited by vegetation, although there are good views over ponds and lakes including prospects of the Cathedral to the northeast.
  • Historical Development
    Richmond Lakes and Whisby Character Area covers an area of low-lying land to the southwest of the City of Lincoln. The area has been subject to extensive gravel quarrying which has overwritten much of the former rural landscape. However, some traces of earlier activity remain evident in the modern landscape.
    From the Roman Era much of the area was low-lying moorland and areas of scrubby woodland which may have been used for grazing livestock and as an important resource for fuel and fodder. A Roman pottery industry was established here during the Roman Military Era [60-90 AD] which utilised woodland resources for timber and charcoal. Sand and gravel resources may also have been exploited for construction projects.
    During the 18th and 19th centuries, a large number of woodland plantations were created, partly in response to poor profitability of agricultural land across the country during this period and the shortage of domestic timber supplies. The area north of the railway line was dominated by such a plantation which was named either ‘Hykeham Piece’ or ‘Hospital Plantation’ which extended east of Station Road. A later plantation lay in the southwest corner of the Character Area at the end of Wood Lane and was named Low Moor Plantation. Most of Low Moor Plantation was removed by quarrying, except the northern part which survives to the west of the sailing club.
    The southern part of the area, North Hykeham Moor, was enclosed into fields by Act of Parliament in 1803. The area north of the railway lay within the parish of Skellingthorpe, and was enclosed in 1830, except for an area of common land that lay within the Character Area referred to as ‘Common Moor’[1]. Common Moor was probably enclosed privately before 1887 when the field boundaries first appear on Ordnance Survey maps. One field margin follows the parish boundary between Skellingthorpe and Doddington which may suggest it dates to the High Medieval Era [850-1350 AD]. Pear Tree Farm, of which only the farmyard remains, was previously named as Whisby Farm, and also dates to before 1887 and occupied a plot south of Whisby Road, the limits of which are still visible south of the junction with Kingsley Road.
    The Midland Railway crosses the centre of the Character Area. It was opened on the 3rd of August 1846 and was the first railway line into Lincoln[2]. The arrival of the railways at the beginning of the Post-railway Expansion Period [1846-1868 AD] provided the catalyst for the rapid industrial and consequently residential expansion of Lincoln. The line is still used at present.
    Much of the current character of the area is largely a result of extensive gravel quarrying from the Post-War Period [1946-1966 AD]. By 1955, small scale workings had started to operate to the east and west of Station Road, either side of the railway. These were extended and new quarry workings were established in the southwest of the area. By 1975, these had removed part of Low Moor Plantation, and reached their maximum extent during the 1990s.
    Since gravel extraction ceased, the flooded pits have been used mainly for recreational pursuits (e.g. fishing and sailing) and some have been adopted by the Whisby Nature Reserve. Some of the pits, particularly in the north of the area were used for landfill, a process which is still occurring in part of the area. Industrial premises and a small housing estate have been built on the fringes of the Character Area during the late Modern Period.

    [1] LAO TLE 38/23
    [2] Birch 1968, 5
  • Urban form
    Richmond Lakes and Whisby Character Area consists of two large areas of open ground lying between Newark Road and Doddington Road, southwest of the city of Lincoln. The two areas are separated by Station Road and the Lincoln to Nottingham railway line bisects the larger area to the west. Most of the Character Area was formerly used for gravel quarrying and many of the quarry pits are now flooded, creating a series of ponds and lakes. The varying sizes of water bodies form impermeable blocks which are separated from each other by thin ‘spits’ of land which were maintained to allow access for heavy machinery. Other than the former gravel pits there is a small area of agricultural land at the junction of Doddington Road and the A46, and a handful of industrial premises and a single small housing estate also fall within the Character Area.
    There are no roads through the Character Area, although the area has footpath and track links, particularly in the south. The A46 defines the western boundary of the Character Area and is near impermeable with few crossing points (e.g. a footpath alongside the railway beneath the bypass). Access is limited, with a number of lakes privately owned for fishing. As a result, the Character Area has low vitality throughout much of the year.
    To the south and southeast, boundaries to the area are generally formed by the rear of residential properties in adjacent Character Areas. To the north and east the rear of industrial plots more commonly form the boundary to the Character Area. Within the Character Area there is a mixture of boundary treatments, including hedgerows and steel fencing, used to separate ponds, lakes and industrial units. Fencing is more commonly used around private fishing lakes and industrial units, with hedgerows used where public access is possible.
     Temporary steel security fencing around privately owned fishing lake
    Figure 2 - Temporary steel security fencing around privately owned fishing lake
    Overall, the Character Area has a low sense of enclosure due largely to open expanses of water and undeveloped land. The sense of enclosure increases around heavily wooded areas, particularly on the edges of the southern part of the Character Area.
    Large tracts of the area are water filled gravel pits. The pits vary in size from small ponds to large lakes and are generally sub-rectangular in shape. The shape and form tends to vary depending on how heavily they have been landscaped following the end of quarrying. The majority have encircling paths and tracks around them, which are separated from the water by grassed embankments and vegetation including semi-mature trees and shrubs.
    Former gravel workings are located to the north of the railway. Some of these are still areas of open water, but others have been infilled with landfill, generally furnace waste (e.g. slag, fine sands and ash) from the adjacent steelworks. Landscaping, including the formation of a large mound, has recently occurred in the area. Access is limited to these northern quarry pits at present.
    The majority of the area south of the railway is wetland and lakes. One lake is managed by Whisby Nature Reserve and others belong to fishing syndicates, or leased to sailing and canoeing clubs. The lake near Station Road is managed as a Millennium Green by North Kesteven District Council (NKDC).
    Vegetation is more heavily managed around the lakes to the south of the railway line, which are no longer being actively quarried or filled. There are numbers of mature, semi-mature and young trees planted throughout the area, with examples of oak, birch and hawthorn all present. Small shrubs and brambles are common on the banks of lakes, between areas of tree planting. Marginal plants on the fringes of the lake include Typha angustifolia, the Lesser Bulrush, and Juncus effuses, Soft Rush.
     Grassed embankments around lakes with semi-mature trees and shrubbery and well maintained paths
    Figure 3 – Grassed embankments around lakes with semi-mature trees and shrubbery and well maintained paths
    Most of the ponds and lakes have their own characteristics depending on how long they have been flooded, how intensively they are managed and what purpose they serve. Teal Lake in the west of the Character Area is part of the Whisby Nature Park. It was flooded as recently as 1999 and as yet remains relatively unused by waterfowl populations. The non-indigenous weed Crassula helmsii, or New Zealand pygmyweed, has to be aggressively managed in parts of the lake to avoid blanket coverage detrimental to other wetland species. Fish stocks are actively managed in the lakes belonging to angling clubs.
    The Pike Drain flows east-west through the Character Area and also forms an important habitat for both flora and fauna, with sticklebacks being common in the waters and water voles being more prevalent in the area of the drain. Bur-reed and water-cress is also common in the drain, and is also actively managed. Following clearance of the dykes to the side of the raised railway embankment early re-growth included a county rarity, ivy-leafed water crowfoot, which is known from about six sites in Lincolnshire. 
    A small area of fields in the northwest corner of the Character Area includes some cultivated enclosures as well as a number of small paddocks. Fields are generally rectangular in shape, although a number have been truncated by gravel works. A farmyard off Whisby Road, belonging to Pear Tree Farm, has one large barn although the other buildings have been demolished since 2008.
    Industrial units off Whisby Road 
    Figure 4 - Industrial units off Whisby Road
    Buildings are scarce throughout the Character Area. Compounds for the sailing club and industrial units off Whisby Road contain functional buildings and are mostly one to two storey steel framed structures with brick and steel cladding. The industrial units tend to be larger buildings set within large plots, and are generally set back over 10m from the footway. Building facades generally have inactive frontages and high solid-to-void ratios with few windows and doors. Boundaries to these compounds are distinct with permanent security fencing and gated entrances.
    A new residential development off Richmond Drive lies in the eastern part of the Character Area. The development consists of a number of densely spaced small rectangular plots. Houses occupy the centre front of their plots and usually have small forecourts or drives with low or indistinct public/private boundaries. Properties have been built using a limited number of standard building plans and a variety of architectural components such as artificial stone accents, render, different coloured roof material and contrasting brickwork. This illustrates a move by developers to create more individual properties from the outset, aimed at satisfying the desire of homeowners for a distinctive and personalised home. It also demonstrates the economies of scale working with a limited palette of construction materials and a set number of building plans. There is no public access to the adjacent lakes which are heavily bounded with high steel security fencing.
     Modern housing along Heather Gardens
    Figure 5 - Modern housing along Heather Gardens
    There are no landmark buildings within the Character Area. The former steelworks on Station Road, immediately adjacent to the area, has towers and chimneys that are visible across the area and the cathedral can be seen from a number of places.
     The former steelworks on Station Road provides a landmark building for the area
    Figure 6 - The former steelworks on Station Road provides a landmark building for the area
  • Views
    Views within the Character Area are often limited due to the presence of a large number of trees. There are, however, good views across open lakes and ponds which can include glimpse views of the Cathedral.
     Glimpse view of Lincoln Cathedral from Richmond Lakes
    Figure 7 - Glimpse view of Lincoln Cathedral from Richmond Lakes
  • Condition of Buildings and Streetscape
    The few buildings within the Character Area are largely new and well maintained. Boundaries can often be in a state of disrepair, particularly where temporary steel security fencing has been used. Vegetation boundaries around the Nature Reserve tend to be actively managed.
  • Use
    A large part of the area is used for recreational purposes, namely fishing and sailing. The Nature Reserve also provides opportunities for recreational walking as does a Millenium Green to the west of Station Road. There are small agricultural fields in the northwest of the area, consisting of cultivated fields and grass paddocks.
    The northern part of the area contains a number of industrial units. The neighbouring agricultural area is likely to be developed for similar industrial and recreational use as seen in the Swanholme Industrial Character Area to the immediate north.
  • Relationship to City and Surrounding Areas
    The Character Area is bordered by the A46 Lincoln western bypass which draws the area into the suburban curtilage around the city. However, its open nature provides a green wedge to the rural hinterland to the west.
    Neighbouring Character Areas turn their back on to the area, although some small residential estates off Newark Road have provided open space adjacent to the lakes.
  • Key Townscape Characteristics
    • Open landscape of water filled gravel pits
    • A sense of continuation with the rural hinterland to the southwest even though the A46 is a near impermeable boundary
    • Contains elements of its historic past including;
      •  Field and parish boundaries – High Medieval Era [850 – 1350 AD] onward
      • Railway – Post-railway Expansion Period [1846 – 1868 AD]
      • Plantations – 18th and 19th century
      • Gravel quarries/pits – Post-war Period [1946 -1966 AD]
    • Gravel pits form discrete areas that are divided from each other by dry spits which provided access for machinery
    • One lake forms parts of Whisby Nature Reserve
    • Other uses include:
      • Sailing and canoeing club
      • Privately owned fishing lakes
      • A Millennium Green managed by NKDC
    • Some pits have been/are being used for landfill purposes
    • The Character Area is largely enclosed by hedged boundaries and security fencing
    • Good footpath links across nature reserve and around the Millennium Green
    • Wetland, woodland and water provide a wide variety of habitats for wildlife
    • The area is generally quiet, though there is constant traffic noise from the A46 to the west
    • Buildings are scarce but include;
      • Large industrial units in large plots of land
      • Modern housing estate
    • Views within the Character Area are often limited by vegetation, although there are good views over ponds and lakes including prospects of the Cathedral