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 04/08/22
The opening of an area of the Lench Meadows, part of the Riverside Project, has been delayed following the discovery of fragments of materials that contain asbestos within the construction site area.
Previous ground investigations did not find any evidence of asbestos, however, the contractors remained alert to the possibility of a discovery due to the lack of regulation that existed around rubbish tips in the 1970s and earlier.
Whilst the discovery of this material is concerning, the situation has been reviewed by the geotechnical and environmental consultant and their report states: “the current state of the site poses no significant risk to end users” as, in the main, fibres are bound up in the building material thus reducing the risk of airborne dispersion.
Based on the agreed method of working, as outlined as part of planning approval, the find triggered the discovery strategy and mitigation protocol and the Environmental Health Officer has been informed. Following their advice and in accordance with the mitigation protocol, a specialist geotechnical and environmental consultant attended site and a set of recommendations have been agreed with the EHO. We are working with our main contractor and other specialist organisations to deliver the recommendations without delay. They are:
A specialist licenced asbestos removal contractor has been instructed to carry out a clearance exercise of the affected area, using appropriate control measures and PPE.
Any items suspected of containing asbestos will be removed from site and disposed of in accordance with the appropriate Health and Safety requirements.
On completion of steps 1 and 2, a hand pick of the area will be carried out to remove glass and other debris.
Affected areas will then be covered with a 75mm layer of clean material in the form of suitable soil, as advised by specialists.
SDC will commission a final review by an independent specialist to ensure oversight of appropriate permanent mitigation.
The design for the project was developed in such a way that no foundations, deep excavation, or piling was carried out on the site of the old tip.
Part of the works to the northern section of the riverside project include work to create a 520 metre long accessible pathway. This is predominantly on the site of what was the haul road for the area to minimise the impact on the former landfill. The work in the flood plain, where the soil is alluvium clay, will create reed beds for water loving plants, birds and mammals and is outside of the former tip.
The soil arising from the works has been used to create butterfly banks and mounds. These will be sown with a wildflower seed mix to create vibrant, long-lasting wildflower displays, which promote biodiversity and serve as an invaluable habitat for pollinating insects, birds, and small mammals.
Please be assured that the safety of the public remains our main concern. The new accessible bridges and riverside pathway remains open between Fisherman’s carpark and town, and the new accessible pathway will open as soon as the recommendations have been completed satisfactorily.
The new cycle track has been a great success and is being widely used:
Key contractors have now been appointed for the project including:
Sarum Hardwood Structures
Sarum Hardwood Structures has extensive expertise in the design, manufacture and installation of timber bridges. Since the early 1980s, their skilled engineers and craftsmen have installed hundreds of timber structures throughout England and Wales. Sarum Hardwood Structures will provide the bridges.
idverde have a proven track record of delivering award-winning landscape creation schemes across the UK. They offer a holistic landscaping service and have completed prestigious schemes at prominent locations including Stratford Gardens (Athletes Village), Media City in Salford, Walsall Arboretum, Eastside City Park (Birmingham) and Wrest Park. idverde will carry out the landscaping work in the northern part of the scheme.
McVeigh Civil Engineering
A Stratford based company, McVeigh Construction was established in 1969 and has much experience with local authority contracts, largely providing general civil engineering services and road surfacing works. McVeigh has established itself as a serious local employer supporting the local community. McVeigh will provide civil engineering services throughout the scheme.
R J Hartwell
A local groundwork and fencing contractor who have constructed the cycle training areas, R J Hartwell will complete the new and upgraded pathways in the Recreation Ground.
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.