CAMPAIGNERS have criticised revised plans for a controversial country park project in Stratford.
The plans, known as The Riverside Project, are being developed by Stratford District Council (SDC) and Stratford Town Trust (STT) to connect the riverside at Fisherman’s car park off Warwick Road, to Lucy’s Mill.
The scheme includes the creation of a cycle ‘road simulated’ play circuit and adventure play area, a watersports and swimming area, three electric vehicle charging points in the leisure centre car park, circular walks, a designated nature reserve and, until now, the expansion of the Fisherman’s car park.
Plans to extend the car park with 75 more parking bays – which would have been located in a floodzone – have been scrapped.
But a toilet block and refreshment cart, whose proposed locations have moved outside of the perimeter of the car park into the surrounding nature area, are still part of proposals.
It follows an objection from the Environment Agency which highlighted a flood risk – although this has now been removed subject to the agreement of revised conditions.
Campaign group Friends of the Lench Meadows fear the facilities will be detrimental to the surrounding wildlife.
Spokesperson Richard Price said: “It’s clear that due consideration was not given to the flood risk associated with the proposed car park extension and that it has, for now, been shelved for which we are grateful. Unfortunately this has led to the toilet block and proposed site for a refreshments wagon being moved right into the middle of the wild space with inevitable consequences for the wildlife, in the form of the required vehicular access, increase in human intrusion and litter.”
The group also believes plans to designate the Lench Meadows as a Local Nature Reserve are insubstantial and has accused project organisers of corner-cutting.
A planning committee report describes the status as an ‘intention’ and notes the nature area could potentially receive funding but a 30-year management plan would be required.
It continues: “The exact arrangements for future management of the site are still to be confirmed but is currently envisaged that some of the ecological maintenance will be delivered in conjunction with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust on behalf of SDC and STT.”
Richard added: “No details have been forwarded of a long-term and well-funded management plan in the dubious likelihood that the area does eventually achieve LNR status.
“It is evident that corners are being cut to facilitate the swift expenditure of the grant funds as specified by its terms, and that this may well be a case of ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’ with the currently abundant wildlife and precious River Avon being compromised beyond repair.”
Over 90 objections have been raised against the project including concerns over disturbance to wildlife, increased car use, highway safety, conflict between cyclists and elderly users, that it is more for tourists and, as a former landfill site, that the area may be contaminated.
However Environmental Health says contamination levels of tested soil did not exceed assessment criteria and asbestos – a chemical of particular concern to residents – was not detected.
The planning committee is set to decide on the application on Wednesday November 24.