The Riverside Vision
The Stratford Riverside Project is a partnership between Stratford on Avon District Council and Stratford Town Trust. £1.5 m of grant funding has been secured from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership via the government's Getting Building Fund giving Stratford a special opportunity to create new leisure and economic opportunities, reduce congestion, and improve air quality.
Joint statement from Stratford District Council and Stratford Town Trust
Stratford Riverside – The Lench Meadows
14th September 2022
Following the discovery of materials containing asbestos on the Lench Meadows, expert advice was sought from Environmental & Contaminated land specialist, Crossfield Consulting. As a result, Ashbee Solutions, a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) licensed asbestos removal contractor, carried out a gridded walkover of the site and removed a quantity of what is understood to be fragments of cement containing asbestos.
Two areas were found to contain a relatively small amount of material. Of these, the area surrounding the butterfly mound contained a higher concentration of cement-bound asbestos fragments, and there was a single find of a partially buried section of what is believed to be pipe insulation containing asbestos.
The recommendations made by Crossfield Consulting for making the area safe, endorsed by the Environmental Health Department, are being actioned.
Given the higher prevalence of asbestos containing materials removed from the flat areas between the butterfly mounds, this area is being covered with a geo textile separator and 150 mm of clean sandy topsoil imported to site as advised by specialists.
This double layer geo textile separator is designed to prevent any further material being brought to the surface by weather conditions or animals. The approved topsoil is nutrient poor to promote the growth of a range of wildflower and plant species. When established the vegetation will add a further layer of protection.
The shaped butterfly mound will be extended with clean imported topsoil to a depth of 1.5 metres to cover material believed to be pipe insulation containing asbestos which was been reburied and damped down in accordance with specialist advice.
After reseeding, the areas will be protected by fencing to allow the vegetation to establish. This will not affect access to the pathways.
All other affected areas have been covered with a 75mm layer of clean material in the form of suitable soil, as advised by specialists. The detailed findings in the report submitted by Crossfield Contamination will be included in an asbestos register to record the location of the materials.
The new accessible bridges and riverside pathway is open between Fisherman’s carpark and town and already being well used and the new accessible pathway will open as soon as the remediation work has been satisfactorily completed.
We remain committed to achieving our aims of creating a Local Nature Reserve and the improvements it will bring in due course.
Please be assured that the safety of the public remains our main concern.
Working closely with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, a key pillar of the project is to protect, restore and enhance the area's rich biodiversity. By connecting the riverside from the north at Fisherman's Car Park to the south at Lucy's Mill, Stratford will have a natural green leisure corridor that will help improve the health and quality of life today and for future
generations. You can read a statement from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Middlemarch Environmental click on the button below.
The initial concept designs were made available for public consultation between 23 November 2020 and 31 March 2021. We received 515 responses directly from the public. Key stakeholders, local groups, organisations and businesses were invited to feedback separately. A robust methodology applied to ensure that all responses were fairly considered. The analysis was undertaken by the Performance, Consultation and Insight Unit from Stratford-on-Avon District Council. Full details of how this was carried out along with the responses are included in the consultation analysis report.
The creation of a major new accessible public open space will deliver significant well-being benefits to both residents and visitors. The space could offer quality time in an outside natural environment and help deliver mental and physical health benefits to all. This area is a blank canvas for a special place that celebrates, nature, fitness, well-being and creativity.
Ian Jelley, Director of Living Landscapes at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said: ''WWT and its environmental consultancy Middlemarch Environmental, have been advising SDC and STT on how to recognise, protect and enhance the most valuable areas for wildlife on the site. Lack of management in recent years has led to the emergence of dominant species that are outcompeting other plants and reducing the overall, diversity for nature. We believe it will be possible to improve the site for wildlife and also improve public access, enabling people to get closer to nature in their daily lives."
The project will help stimulate the local economy, generate jobs and support existing businesses. Creating new open spaces will help deliver more visitors to the RSC and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and increase dwell time within the town. There are also opportunities to create new small businesses around the new leisure and recreation spaces. In a post Covid-19 economy these stimuli will be important.
The riverside in front of Fisherman's Car Park offers possibilities as a watersports and swimming area (as it was in the 1920s and 30s) along with pick up points for electric boat taxis going into town. The car park could be extended into the shrubland to the left of this picture to provide more parking and toilets. Any parking revenues generated could be used to help maintain and improve the land.
The southern area of riverside up to Lucy's Mill Bridge could have improved pedestrian and cycle crossing access, river taxi pick up and drop off points, plus picnic and barbecue areas, event and performance space and areas for children to play safely. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, Stratford became an important riverside leisure destination for many people attracted by its open spaces. Enhancing the town's 'green appeal' will further improve its allure to visitors.
The economic benefits from a revitalised southern riverside could be considerable.
Accessibility For All
Pathways, bridges and walkways could be made wider and more accessible for more people. There's currently little access into large parts of the north riverside for walkers which presents opportunities to connect up multiple pathways and create circular leisure walking routes.
Dr Nick Steggall, Associate Director at Middlemarch Environmental said: "Due to the lack of traditional meadow managing techniques, the habitats on the site are becoming dominated with vigorous grass species which are outperforming the traditional meadow flora, reducing the diversity of the site. A key recommendation of the Local Wildlife Site survey in 2020 is that 'Urgent work should include restoring the northern river meadow to an MG4 flood meadow (a national priority habitat)'. The future objective is to maintain the mosaic of habitats and identify if additional ecological enhancements can be undertaken."
New to the Recreation Ground
A new natural play area made from Robinia hardwood timber for children aged between 7-14 years, including:
Cantilevered Basket Swing
Climbing Log Apparatus
Sensory Totem Poles
Managing the Flood Plain
We know the riverside floods and the photos on the right were taken as recently as December last year. Because of this it's unlikely that there will be any large, permanent structures built. We are consulting with the Environment Agency to manage the flood plain and potentially reduce or better control the amount of floodwater on Warwick Road Lands and Fisherman's Car Park. Reclaiming some of this space from flooding through better flood-management and restoring and improving drainage is an important part of the project.
The Recreation Ground
The 'Rec' - as Stratfordians call it - has multiple opportunities for cycling training, natural play areas, formal sports provisions, gym apparatus, pitches and new sports club facilities along with community orchards and gardens. This area could become the heart of Stratford's leisure, sports and recreational facilities. The surrounding car parking area with its established power supply could also provide a significant amount of electric car chargers.
Stratford's Colourful Riverside
Stratford has always used its river as a place for leisure and recreation. In the early 19th century the riverside was much more well-used than it is now with a formal regatta, boat racing, and a lido. In the 1930s 'The Old Bathing Place' - the area in front of Fisherman's Car Park - was much more developed with diving boards, water chute, changing huts and a swimmer's safety boom.
If you have any photos or memories they could help uncover riverside's past and help create a public exhibition.
electric Car charging Hub
Stratford would benefit from an electric charging hub to encourage EV use and help improve air quality in the town. There is potential to site an EV hub in the Leisure Centre car park and near the Recreation Ground.
Electric Bike and Scooter Hire
Zero-emission electric bike and scooter hire could give visitors and residents a clean enjoyable way of entering the town through riverside without sitting in traffic jams.
Park & Boat...
Electric river taxis could make journeys in and out of Stratford a special event as well as helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality. River taxis could do regular runs from Fisherman's Car Park to Bancroft Gardens and back again.