Stratford Riverside Project scaled back as some plans shelved... for now
CONTROVERSIAL plans for the Riverside Project in Stratford have been revised in what campaigners for the area have called a “triumph of ecology over commercialism”.
The scheme, which had the ambition of bringing more people to area between the River Avon and the Warwick Road, had included changes such as toilet block, car park extension and new boat jetty, but many of the ideas are no longer included in current development plans.
An Environment Agency’s objection scuppered the extension of Fisherman’s car park while other aspects of the scheme have been quietly dropped – or at least kicked into the long grass.
The project has been plagued with objections from the outset. Campaign group, the Friends of Lench Meadows, called on Stratford District Council and the Stratford Town Trust, who are behind the project, to take a lighter approach to the scheme, arguing the work could drive out wildlife and turn a natural site into a new recreation ground.
On 10th February there was a breakthrough when contractors, campaigners, the district council and town trust finally got together for an informative three-hour walk of the site to establish what conservation work had been carried out and what other work was planned during the next few months.
Stratford District Council announced this week that it was finalising the details of the work in the first phase of the project, and issued a new map showing what would be taking place and where.
A spokesperson said: “The masterplan for the Riverside project sets out a long-term vision to create a green corridor including a Local Nature Reserve, extending from land to the north of Fisherman’s car park through to Seven Meadows Road.
“Stratford was fortunate to be awarded grant funding to allow us to make a substantial start on the project. Now that planning permission is in place and the tender prices for the scheme have been received, we are finalising the details of the work that will be included in this phase of the project.”
The map will be installed on information boards at various locations around the area.
The revised plan was welcomed by The Friends of Lench Meadows, which collected 2,300 signatures on a petition against the “excessive nature of the original plans”.
The group said this means there will be no jetty, no new toilet block and no further expansion of the site – for the time being.
A spokesperson for The Friends of Lench Meadows (FLM) said: “Assuming there are no further versions of the plan, this represents a triumph of ecology over commercialism.
“What a shame plans such as these, which broadly reflect the desires expressed by Warwickshire County Council in their citation of 2020, and the wishes of the FLM, couldn’t have been forwarded in the early days.
“They are particularly encouraging in that they specify the work is aimed at progressing towards Local Nature Reserve status and we hope this is achieved as soon as practically possible.”
The exclusion of some elements of the scheme was not influenced by funding, the project’s backers stressed this week.
A joint statement issued yesterday (Wednesday) by Stratford District Council and Stratford Town Trust said:
“The project budget remains unchanged at £2m with £1.5m of Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership funding and £500,000 total match funding coming from Stratford District Council and Stratford Town Trust. This includes all the necessary studies and relevant surveys associated with the project.”
A spokesperson for Stratford Town Trust added: “We’re pleased to see work commencing that will help us reach our aim of achieving a Local Nature Reserve at the Lench Meadows.”