Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs
Welcome to our page about our exciting plans for the Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoir site. Our vision for the site is to create a hub for recreation, health and wellbeing – and provide an area in our vibrant capital where people can reconnect with water and our beautiful environment.
We took over Lisvane and Llanishen reservoirs in 2016 – and became guardians of its amazing ecology and heritage.
Built in the late-19th century, this Victorian landmark covers 110 acres of green and blue space and is home to amazing flora and fauna – offering an oasis of calm just a few miles from Cardiff’s city centre.
Lisvane Reservoir is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for overwintering birds; and the embankments of both reservoirs are designated SSSI for waxcap fungi. Much of the reservoir grassland and scrub woodland outside the SSSI is designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC).
Ever since we took over Lisvane and Llanishen reservoirs in 2016 we have been working to bring them back to their former glory. Whilst understanding the ecological importance of the site, we also recognise the site’s potential to create a hub for recreation, health and wellbeing – and provide an area in our vibrant capital where people can reconnect with water and our beautiful environment. Our proposals aim to maximise public access whilst protecting and enhancing the ecology of the site. They have been developed in consultation with key stakeholders and using feedback received from the local community.
The work so far
Restoring the reservoirs and bringing them back into operational use so they can be enjoyed for decades to come has been a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Ecologists have overseen every stage of this work to minimise the impact of the work and protect the iconic wildlife all around – from the waxcap fungi to the overwintering birds.
Since taking over the site in 2016 we have carried out a lot of work which has been essential in restoring the reservoirs. This has included:
- vegetation clearance within both reservoirs
- repairing the stone pitching on the inside of the dam wall at Llanishen reservoir
- repairing and replacing valves and pipes needed to operate the reservoirs safely
- reinstating the perimeter fence
- draining Llanishen reservoir to fully inspect it before allowing it to safely refill
- introducing a new mowing regime for the reservoir embankments, which has enhanced the grassland for the waxcap fungi
In January 2022, work on the brand new two-storey hub at the northern end of the site got underway. As long as everything goes to plan, the building will be completed in early 2023.
The Visitor Hub
Our vision is to create a community hub for the local area and visitors to enjoy. At the northern end, we will create a visitor hub with spectacular views across both reservoirs. The two-storey building will feature:
- Changing rooms, showers and toilets to enable water-sports use
- Meeting and training rooms
- Cafe with panoramic views across the reservoirs
So you can enjoy the spectacular views and nature around us – we will also create:
- Circular paths around the reservoirs
- Bird hides and a viewpoint
- Conservation areas
- Site wide signage and interpretation and a nature trail
Access and parking
Lisvane and Llanishen reservoirs are widely loved across Cardiff and further afield – so we want to make sure the site will also be as accessible to the local community and wider capital as possible, whilst protecting and enhancing the unique ecology of the site.
New access points and circular paths around the crest of the reservoirs and site will connect to local communities and public rights of way. We have carefully designed paths to guide visitors around the site and minimise impacts on ecologically sensitive areas. A wheelchair friendly bird hide will allow visitors to quietly observe the overwintering birds on Lisvane reservoir.
Parking will also be available at the visitor hub for those that need to travel by car. We also hope to be able to offer disabled parking provision and access to a viewpoint on Llanishen reservoir from Rhyd-y-Penau Rd. We are a Dementia Friendly organisation and are committed to offering Sailability.
The reservoirs site will be free to enter and open to the public 364 days a year. However to protect the overwintering birds and waxcap fungi, public access to Lisvane reservoir will be restricted during the winter months.
As part of our plans to transform the reservoirs into a hub for health and wellbeing, we intend to bring back watersports to Lisvane and Llanishen reservoirs.
Our plans include providing water-based activities – stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, electric picnic boats, and more.
Sailing would also come back to Lisvane and Llanishen reservoirs for the first time since the club was moved to Cardiff Bay in 2010. The site was one of the most prominent and well-loved sailing training centres in Wales and our intention will be to bring back this sport for people in Cardiff and south Wales to enjoy once more.
We also intend to bring paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking to the reservoir – allowing everyone the chance to enjoy a range of watersports and learn new skills in a safe inland environment.
We’ve had a number of suggestions in support of open water swimming at the site during our open engagement with you over the past year or two. Unfortunately our plans to pilot open water swimming at one of our other visitor attraction sites this year has been put on hold due to coronavirus restrictions. However we remain committed to exploring this opportunity.
At Welsh Water, we believe in engaging with young people as they ultimately will be our customers of the future and will play a key role in helping us protect our precious water resources.
We already offer a comprehensive education programme which in 2019-2020 reached more than 75,000 children – and our education programmes have reached more than half a million children since they were established in 2001. Lisvane and Llanishen offer huge potential for building on this record as an educational resource, and so form a big part of our plans.
So our plans include:
- On-site rangers will deliver activities to visitors, schoolchildren and corporate groups to let them know about the special significance of the reservoirs
- A Learning Zone with Welsh round house – which would support Forest School programmes and be available for use by education, community & wellbeing groups
- Development of learning materials to complement Curriculum objectives
- Work experience, skills development and training placement opportunities
- Watersports training and courses
Wildlife, Conservation and Ecology
We take our responsibility for safeguarding the environment for future generations very seriously.
Since we took on the reservoirs, we have been very aware of the precious ecological – and historical – value of the site and have worked closely with Natural Resources Wales, Cadw and other specialists in restoring the reservoirs and developing our future plans.
The site is a unique natural resource of significant ecological value. It includes two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for waxcap fungi and overwintering birds. Gwern-y-Bendy Wood and Rhyd-y-Pennau Woods are Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation.
A range of studies have been carried out – including ecological, transport, access and flooding. These studies and their findings form part of the information we have submitted as part of the pre-planning application. All of the reports and associated documents can be viewed at the foot of this page.
To safeguard the unique ecology of the site our proposals include:
- A Winter Conservation Zone on Lisvane reservoir to protect overwintering birds
- Floating islands on Lisvane to create a bird refuge
- Bird hides on Lisvane embankment
- Conservation Zone in Gwern-y-Bendy Woods
Health & Wellbeing
In addition to offering water-based and education activities, we also recognise the site’s potential for being a hub for health and wellbeing.
Our Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being (ENRaW) project has been developed through an innovative partnership and is funded by Welsh Government.
This will see us working with the Reservoir Action Group, Cardiff Council & Cardiff & Vale University Health Board and a range of organisations to offer activities to benefit people’s own health, while also helping enhance the site’s environment and biodiversity.
The project will enable the creation of:
- circular paths around the reservoirs and a wheelchair friendly bird hide
- a Learning Zone with a Welsh round house
- a Friends group to work with us to enhance biodiversity and help care for the site in the future
- a community engagement programme working with partners and local organisations
- a community heritage project to collect memories for the new signage interpretation scheme
- social prescribing opportunities working in partnership with the healthcare sector
Volunteering at Lisvane and Llanishen
Welsh Water recognises that Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs are at the heart of the local community, and the important role that local people played in safeguarding the site for the benefit of future generations. To help deliver our vision of creating an urban hub for health & wellbeing we have supported the formation of Friends of Cardiff Reservoirs to help people get involved with the reservoirs and the site’s heritage.
Prior to the site opening to the public, members of the group will have the chance to work with Welsh Water and co-create volunteering events that will help with conservation management activities to protect and enhance the unique ecology of the site. Once opened to the public the Friends Group will continue to support Welsh Water to help care for the site into the future.
Welsh Water is committed to working in partnership with organisations who create opportunities to increase awareness and involvement in caring for the environment by local people and communities.
In collaboration with the independently constituted Friends of Cardiff Reservoirs, pilot volunteering programmes will be delivered at our Cardiff Reservoirs, Lisvane & Llanishen.
Get involved and volunteer with Friends of Cardiff Reservoirs.