Frequently asked questions
What are you going to do about flooding?
The Warwick Road Lands and Fisherman's Car Park are in a floodplain but there are no current plans for buildings or complex structures to be built. All paths, walkways and any ammenities will be designed to withstand any flooding risk and all news trees will be selected for their ability to withstand water damage. Existing drains and ditches will be cleared and upgraded.
What about the local residents and fishermen that use the riverside now?
Residents and fishermen who already use the Fisherman's Car Park, the river frontage and the Warwick Road Lands are encouraged to continue using the space for recreation hobbies and sport. The cornerstone of the project is to greatly enhance the appeal and accesibility of the area to as many people as possible and to increase leisure and healthy-living opportunties for all.
What are the main benefits of revitalising the riverside?
There are many benefits - an economic boost for the town, creation of jobs and new businesses, more leisure and well-being spaces for residents and vistors, less car use within the town centre so less congestion and pollution. But perhaps most of all this is an exciting community project that will give Stratford something special to build in 2021, 2022 and beyond.
How will my views and opinions be used?
Carparks - why are you concreting over a field? Haven’t we got enough carparks?
The plan details a carpark adjacent to the current one at Fisherman’s. The amount of spaces will be determined by a provable, evidence-based need combined with the results of the consultation. Any carpark will be delivered in as green a way as possible and already the designers, listeing to consultation feedback have submitted an updated design. We emphatically won’t be making this a vista of tarmac or concrete. At this stage we have no idea how many cars is the right number and what a layout might look like. Currently there are less than 50 spaces at Fisherman’s and only one disabled space. The layout is not efficient and over the last ten months the car park has been regularly over capacity with people then choosing to park illegally and dangerously around the space and on the Warwick Road.
The entrance and exit from Fisherman’s carpark onto the Warwick road is hazardous, particularly if you wish to turn right. Extending this carpark will enable more people to park safely and use the river/riverside; will enable the introduction of electric charging points and will allow a safer entrance and exit. We appreciate that this is not an easy fix and will be working with WCC to achieve this.
The plan shows minimal parking at the Seven meadows Road end of the scheme. This is purely indicative and is contingent upon SDC acquiring the “Onion Field”.
In both cases if we are able to bring cars off the road at the perimeter we can reduce congestion and improve airquality within the town, leaving town centre parking more available for residents .
Will you be charging for the carparks? The honest answer is very likely yes but we want to explore schemes that give residents a preferential rate
Preserving habitats and biodiversity. The land is so wild it must be really species rich. Why do you want to trample all over it?
STT are custodians of the wild land between Fisherman’s and the leisure centre. We are working closely with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and specialist consultants Middlemarch Environmental www.middlemarch-environmental.com to ensure that the ecology of this area is enhanced through a tailored management plan. WWT are fully in support of an improvement scheme as the current ecology is relatively uniform and is likely to decline if not managed in a way that promotes biodiversity. Until the 1960’s half of this land was a rubbish tip.
Ian Jelley, Director of Living Landscapes at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said: “The area is designated a Local Wildlife Site, which recognises the important role it plays for native wildlife in the local area. In addition, because it is located next the River Avon it plays a crucial role in habitat connectivity, enabling species to move through the landscape. Over time, dominant species prevail, creating uniform habitat, reducing the overall number of plant species. So much of our natural world interacts in a complex system of food webs, that as soon as you reduce the overall plant species diversity, you reduce the overall wildlife further up the food chain. Prior to human habitat this diversity was created from large groups of herbivores like bison, however in the UK we no longer have these and therefore human intervention in the form of management required.
With the right sympathetic design, the site could be enhanced for wildlife by improving the habitat condition and enabling people to get closer to nature in their daily lives. Opportunities like this could contribute to ensuring that 30% of land is supporting nature’s recovery by 2030, whilst at the same time providing benefits to local people by enabling them to access high quality greenspace on their doorstep. We know that interacting with nature helps people’s mental and physical wellbeing. and therefore sites like this could provide multiple benefits to wildlife and people in Stratford.”
I don’t want to share the space with dog walkers/runners/cyclists/wild swimmers/kayakers/screaming children/tourists and visitors. Why can’t you just leave things as they are?
Since April people have really valued being able to get outside and in Stratford we are lucky to have beautiful surroundings on our doorstep. There has been a renewed interest in river bathing and water sports, all of which is brilliant for people’s health and wellbeing. We should be encouraging this to continue for the many and not the few. Currently there is only one accessible path from Fisherman’s to town. The large expanse of land will allow us to create natural meandering paths through the space where we can tell people about the species around them and allow them explore. There is room for everyone including the wildlife. There is a great example here in Doverhttps://www.samphirehoe.com/about-samphire-hoe/ We would like this end of the scheme to be a real exemplar in green regeneration.
Why can’t you just use the money to help the businesses?
The Getting Building fund is aimed at regeneration and new ideas rather than crisis management – there are other LA and government schemes to support that. Even if we could give the money directly to business, with 384 of them the amount for each would be ineffective.
Town centres are in decline across the UK and with our reliance on hospitality we’ve been hit really hard ITV News Report . Businesses have already closed and blaming it on “high” rents is misleading. Businesses who have adapted and been able to flex their operation look to be in better shape – MOR bakery is a great example of this. Visitor numbers are not expected to recover until 2025 and with the RSC and SBT likely to remain closed until mid-2021, at the earliest the town needs to take this flexible approach and provide other reasons for people to visit the town, stay longer and spend money in our local businesses
What do the environmental experts say?
Ian Jelley, Director of Living Landscapes at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said: ‘Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and its environmental consultancy Middlemarch Environmental have been advising Stratford District Council and Stratford Town Trust on how to recognise, protect and enhance the most valuable areas for wildlife on the site. Ecological studies carried out by Middlemarch Environmental over the coming weeks and months will inform the next phase of the project’s development. We believe it will be possible to improve the site for wildlife and improve public access, enabling people to get closer to nature in their daily lives.
‘The Local Wildlife Site survey our team undertook last year revealed that effective site management is crucial for nature conservation. Lack of management in recent years has led to the emergence of some dominant plant species that are outcompeting other plants and reducing the overall diversity for nature. An example of this is the former flood meadow which was almost certainly an example of the nationally endangered type of wet meadow, with rare plants present when it was being managed as a hay meadow. Unfortunately due to the lack of management for 25 years the field has deteriorated into the common grassland comprising of much commoner species typically associated with unmanaged grassland. The variety of plant species influences the other insects, mammals and birds associated with the site. The more types of native plant there are, the more other wildlife there is. If left unmanaged into the future, the site would continue to decline and species would be lost as the overall habitats would continue to change over time.
‘We welcome the response from local people to the consultation and are pleased so many are passionate about wildlife on their doorstep. With our input, and the feedback from the general public we are pleased to see that both Stratford Town Trust and Stratford District Council are considering how to ensure that the natural environment is placed at the heart of the evolving vision for the site.’
Dr Nick Steggall, Associate Director at Middlemarch Environmental
said: “Middlemarch Environmental, the consultancy arm of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, have been undertaking baseline ecological surveys of the habitat types present. In addition, we have been undertaking a review of the historic ecological data, to gain an understanding of how the site has altered in recent times.
The mosaic of habitat types present on the site are those generally associated with a riparian habitat on the edge of a town. Unfortunately, due to the lack of traditional meadow management techniques, the habitats on site are becoming dominated with the vigorous grass species which are outcompeting the traditional meadow flora. Large areas are being colonised by scrub and ruderal species such as willowherb, thistle and nettle, which is further reducing the floral diversity of the site. This is substantiated by the historic Local Wildlife Site (LWS) surveys for Lench Meadows LWS, the latest of which was completed in 2020. This notes that the site has been neglected from its management and that ruderal and scrub species are becoming dominant, often entirely replacing the grasses.
With regards to the flood meadow, this historical data states that “this former flood meadow was almost certainly and an example of the nationally endangered MG4 NVC (Meadow Foxtail – Great Burnet) community when it was being managed as a hay meadow.” Unfortunately, Great Burnet was not found by the LWS surveyors in the 2020 surveys and the report goes on to state “It has unfortunately had to endure 25 years of neglect, so the field has deteriorated into the common MG1 grassland, typical of unmanaged swards.” A key recommendation of the LWS report is “Urgent work should include restoring the northern river meadow to an MG4 flood meadow (a national priority habitat) with an annual cut and the introduction of green hay from a suitable SSSI donor meadow.”
Using this data, the design team has identified the significance of this habitat and working in collaboration with the design team, Stratford District Council and Stratford Town Trust, this ecological feature will be retained and enhanced. To kickstart the meadow restoration, the area has been subject to a traditional spring hay cut, removing any arisings and allowing open spaces for meadow flora to grow. Due to the narrow timeframe between the floodplain soil drying out enough to permit mowing machines into the area and the start of April when the ground nesting birds are nesting, a nesting bird survey was undertaken prior to the cut commencing. An ecologist inspected this area before the hay cut was taken to ensure no animals were harmed by the reinstatement of the meadow management methods.
The meadow will be monitored this year to see if any of the seeds from the former rare habitat remain in the seedbank and to see if they germinate, or if additional help to restore the meadow is required through the direct application of supplementary seeding.
The future objective is to maintain the mosaic of habitats present on the site and to identify if additional ecological enhancements can be undertaken. A full management plan will be complied to avoid the deterioration of the habitats occurring in the future. We will also seek to achieve Local Nature Reserve designation.”
Sara Aspley, Chief Executive from Stratford Town Trust said: ‘We’ve listened carefully to a wide range of views from the public and key local stakeholders as part of the consultation on the initial concept design. The feedback has clearly highlighted the value of a revitalised green space for the residents of the town and the benefits of providing Stratford with another valuable asset to aid post Covid-19 recovery.’
Tony Perks, Deputy Chief Executive at Stratford District Council said: ‘In progressing into the next stage of design development, which will evaluate and respond to feedback with a revised plan, the project team have through Tandem Projects, engaged the design services of Design with Nature. Responding to the focus and needs of this project, Design with Nature are a Landscape Institute Registered Practice, with a specific focus on ecologically informed and focussed design solutions.’