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Watermead, Buckinghamshire

Watermead is a completely new village, situated about half a mile north of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, England. It is a very popular place to live for young couples and city executives.

The nickname that some people give the village is Toytown, because of the way that it looks across the lake from Aylesbury. This is in reference to the Noddy books by Enid Blyton.

Plans for the village of Watermead were first drawn up in the 1980s. The idea was to create a self contained executive village that would bring new sports facilities and a better quality of housing to the town.

The estate is built on green belt land. At the planning stage the designers were required to pay heed to the ecology of the local area to help protect the environment. Central to the plans therefore was an extensive lake that would become a haven for wildlife and many wild birds.

The water table in the Vale of Aylesbury is higher than the average in England, on account of extensive water reserves that are stored below the clay bed of the whole vale. Either the designers of the village didn't know this, or didn't take it into account. Nevertheless construction went underway and the first houses were ready for sale in 1990.

Unfortunately serious subsidence was experienced by these houses in the first year, as they were effectively slipping into the lake. In addition to this problem, when winter came the water table rose and the whole village was submerged under water. This happened at the same time as the housing crash of the whole of the United Kingdom and people who had bought their dream lakeside home for 500,000 at the start of the year, found they couldn't even sell it for one fifth of its original value at the end of the year. The design company were sued extensively, and forced into bankruptcy.

On the opposite side of the lake from the village was an artificial ski slope, which also subsided quite seriously.

Today the subsidence problem has been fixed, as has control over the local water table with flood defences installed and diversions for the River Thame to flood planes on specially dug lakes. The village has grown extensively and has a very active parish council. The ski slope, however, stands disused by the side of the main road leading into the village.

Watermead was voted one of the top housing developments of its type in the country in the early 1990s and won awards for its design and original ideas. The lake is now stocked with many varieties of wildlife and even has a rare breed of bird nesting around the wooded areas at the shores of the lake.

The original Royco theme was to have blocks of individual homes that made walking through each road (each named after a breed of bird) interesting, although this is something that has been lost since newer building designs were erected around Watermead, but predominantly the existing original Royco village still greets you as you enter over the bridge and across the lake from the approach road.