Midlands-based landscape practice Design with Nature has produced a sustainable and biodiversity-focused landscape masterplan for Stratford-on-Avon’s new riverside park, which is currently under construction.
The £2m project, funded by the Coventry & Warwickshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, covers a 1km stretch alongside the River Avon that runs right through the middle of Stratford-on-Avon. The project includes both the more formal recreation ground as well as the extensive semi-natural County Wildlife Site to the north, known locally as Lench Meadows.
Mark Stefan, director at Design with Nature, said: “This has been a fantastic project to work on, and as ever, we ensure that sustainability and nature are absolutely at the core of our design ethos.
“We worked closely with the site’s landowners, Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Stratford Town Trust, to make the park more accessible for all users, while at the same time providing a haven for a wide range of wildlife.”
Graham Black, director at Tandem Projects, which has project managed the whole scheme, said: “’We were delighted to engage Design with Nature as part of our team to deliver this project. Their design and attention to detail will ensure that this project provides a lasting legacy for the town. Biodiversity will be significantly enhanced, with managed access for visitors to enjoy.”
The project aims to boost biodiversity through the creation of new habitat and restoration of existing ones, and to improve accessibility and increase opportunities for walking, cycling and passive recreation.
Lench Meadows currently comprises of a mosaic of unmanaged habitats including degraded flood meadows, marsh, wet woodland, scrub and post-industrial grassland, rich in flora and fauna. They are highly valued by local residents and are also a popular recreational destination in the summer months, with people congregating to simply enjoy being by the river.
The initial biodiversity-focussed works, developed with project ecologists Middlemarch Environmental, involve the creation of new reedbeds, with deeper areas where breeding birds can seek refuge and regrading of steeper sections of riverbank to create additional marginal habitat which will protect them against erosion and provide refuge for wildlife.
The scheme also includes the creation of extensive new wildflower meadows, restoration of existing grassland habitat, new tree and hedgerow planting as well as enhancement of the site’s woodland through coppicing and the subsequent establishment of swathes of native wildflowers and bulbs.
This work will create a strong foundation for the future designation of Lench Meadows as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) as well as providing opportunities for the sale of Biodiversity Net Gain credits which can be used to fund the ongoing management of the site.
Other elements of the wider scheme include the installation of a new far more accessible bridge, a new cycleway connecting the Fisherman’s car park at the northern end of the site with the town centre; and a natural play area and cycle training track for younger children.
Design with Nature has also worked closely with a specialist designer in relation to the formulation of a wayfinding and interpretation strategy for the entire site.