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.
The new cycle track has been a great success and is being widely used:
Work is currently being carried out as part of an
essential maintenance programme while the planning
conditions for the developments outlined below are
Following the approval of planning permission for the Stratford
Riverside project, preparations have been made for the start of work
onsite. This marks an exciting stage as appointed contractors work
over the coming months in the northern part of the scheme.
The first development will be from the Marina to the small footbridge
north of the humpback footbridge. Stratford-based contractor McVeigh
Construction, will commence in early February on the replacement of
the humpback footbridge with a more natural, accessible bridge. This
will be lifted into place once the existing bridge has been demolished
and the new bridge foundations have been constructed.
Adjacent to the Marina, the existing entry road will be lifted to the level of the exit road. A new shared surface will be installed to improve the safety of the road and interaction of vehicles, pedestrians and cycles crossing the area. Existing footpaths will be widened and resurfaced to connect through to the new cycleway to the north of the footbridge.
Alongside this, will be the development of the hard and soft landscaping from the bridge up to Fisherman’s car park. Idverde, a national contractor with an excellent track record in works of this nature, have been appointed to undertake this work. This will include the landscape and habitat improvement works, such as pond restoration, tree maintenance, reed beds, wildflower mounds and planting, together with the construction of the shared cycleway and the new access path from the Leisure Centre car park. All work will be overseen by retained experts and designers to ensure they are carried out sympathetically to the needs of the environment and site, for example, taking into account the start of bird nesting season.
Access along the riverside path will be maintained for as much of the project as possible, although this will be a one-way route due to the closure of the footbridge. Access to the informal paths to the northeast of the site will be suspended for much of the works as the majority of this area will be designated as a construction site and safety considerations are paramount.
The timescale for completion is approximately five months and the existing footpath will be closed until the new footbridge and footpaths are complete. Works to the Marina entrance will be phased to maintain access to the Marina car parks and facilities throughout. Alternative routes will be well signposted.
Tony Perks, Deputy Chief Executive, Stratford District Council, said: "The work over the coming months will cause some disruption and naturally the area will not look its best while it is ongoing. However, once complete, the resulting new bridge and improved paths will make the Riverside area accessible for all, connecting the town and bringing everyone closer to nature."
Sarah Windrum, CWLEP Chair, said: “It is fantastic that the Riverside project has taken another step forward with the procurement of a number of contractors.
"Creating a green, sustainable future is one of the key elements of CWLEP’s Strategic Reset Framework as we encourage a green recovery from the pandemic throughout our area.
“It is vital we create the pedestrian and cycle networks which are needed to encourage a different way of travelling to our town and city centres as well as improving air quality as we play our part in helping the Government to reach its Net Zero targets.”
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.