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Opponents unconvinced by Riverside Project changes

Significant changes to Stratford’s Riverside Corridor Project have failed to win over key opponents of the £2million scheme.

The Fisherman's Car Park (46219372)
The Fisherman's Car Park (46219372)

Earlier this month the Herald revealed a range of changes to the project, following feedback received during a public consultation earlier this year, which revealed mixed feelings from the public.

Stratford District Council and Stratford Town Trust have moved to address the most controversial aspect of the project in its new plans, opting to increase the size of the Fisherman’s Car Park to around 125 spaces, far below the original 500 proposed.

It has also toned down other aspects, reducing the number of footpaths in the northern riverside area, and proposing to look at a possible link from Warwick Road to the Leisure Centre car park to make better use of the facility.

However despite such alterations, the Friends of Fisherman’s Walk group, appear to remain opposed to the scheme and against any expansion of the car park.

A statement from the group said: “The latest feedback confirms the overwhelming concerns of the public that the area should remain as wild as possible, and while the promoters acknowledge this, they seem intent on forging ahead with plans that would severely compromise this desire. We are, of course, pleased that they seem predisposed to accepting the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust recommendation that the area becomes a Local Nature Reserve, but this doesn’t sit well with plans to bulldoze a large part of it for the car park extension.”

The group said that it is impossible for the council and town trust to present evidence of the need for a car park extension, given charging is set to be introduced soon and use of the facility may have been different during the pandemic.

The group added that the recent decision to conduct a hay cut on the flood meadow, had raised fears about the council’s approach to the project adding: “Despite assurances that plans for the ‘semi-formal parkland’, akin to the recreation ground and mentioned in the original grant bid, had been dropped, the mowing of the flood plain a fortnight ago has raised anxiety that this is not the case, The destruction of this wild area seems to point to the creation of a more human-centric space at the expense, again, of the wildlife.

“In addition, no input has yet been forthcoming from agencies such as the Environment Agency, regarding the effects of developing the flood plain upstream from the town centre, nor have toxicology reports been published pertaining to the effects of potentially disturbing an area that was for many years the town tip. We also await with interest a full Environmental Impact Assessment. So many questions need answering yet there is a sense that the proposals are being hurried along without due diligence.”

Stephen Norrie, of Stratford Climate Action added: “We welcome the fact that they’ve toned down their proposals, but we are still unconvinced that there is any need to expand the car park, especially now it seems like they’re talking about potentially making better use of the Leisure Centre Car Park.

“Obviously 125 spaces is better than a 500 space car park, but we’ve not seen evidence that it’s needed. Our view is that the land should be managed in conjunction with the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust to enhance the area.”

However there was some positivity surrounding the changes from the Stratford Society.

Kevin Bond, chairman of the Stratford Society, said: “We’re pleased with the reduction of the car park, there has been a lot of debate around this point but to me focussing on a car park is nonsensical, the focus should be on enhancing the nature trail and the environment. Car parking should be right at the bottom of the list of priorities for this project. I’m more positive about this project and how it

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