19 December 2019
Fish populations and wildlife habitats can thrive after planning permission was granted to create a new river channel by the site of the old Victoria Ground, the former home of Stoke City Football Club.
Following a significant planning and design period, planning permission has now been granted which will allow the new channel to be created along the River Trent by the Victoria Ground, which has been heavily modified in some places.
The work is part of the European Regional Development Fund SUNRISE (Stoke and Urban Newcastle Rediscovering its Secret Environments) partnership project, which is led by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and delivered in the main by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. The work is being funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Environment Agency.
The new channel will provide massively improved habitat for wildlife as well as bypassing the barrier of two weirs, allowing an easier passage for fish such as brown trout to travel along. The site follows the course of the River Trent from the site of the old Stoke City Victoria Ground in the north, to its confluence with the Lyme Brook in Hanford to the south.
Richard Guy, ERDF SUNRISE Project Manager, said: “We are extremely grateful for the support of landowners, St. Modwen Homes, the city council and the Environment Agency for assistance in getting the project to this point.
“The river corridor itself is very narrow, and currently flows through an unsightly concrete channel which is devoid of opportunities for wildlife.
“As well as wildlife habitats and the free movement of fish being improved, landscaped banks will provide a much more aesthetically pleasing separate section of the river and the planning permission also covers the construction of a path following the river for local communities so they can enjoy the improvements too.”
With planning permission now secured, work could start on the new river channel as early as February, with the scheme expected to be finished in autumn. In a separate scheme, developer St. Modwen Homes is delivering 130 homes on the site and have plans for up to 70 more as part of the next phase of their Victoria Park development as well as delivering sports pitches for the local school and riverside pathways for the community to enjoy.
Cllr Carl Edwards, cabinet member for environment for Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “This is a really exciting part of the SUNRISE project that will remove one of the last remaining barriers to the free movement of fish on the whole of the River Trent. It’s particularly pleasing a new path will be created which will give people the chance to enjoy the river, something they are not properly able to do in this location at present.
“The council has worked very closely with St. Modwen Homes to bring this site back to life, with the homes built in the last two years breathing new life into the community and changing this area of the city in a positive way. We’re very much looking forward to working closely with them to deliver the next phase of their housing development, and bringing further regeneration to our city.”
Matt Lawrence, Environment Programme Manager for the Environment Agency, said: “We’re extremely pleased that planning permission has been granted for this work to go ahead.
“Not only will it improve biodiversity in this section of the river Trent, it will also vastly improve the appearance of the river in this part of Stoke-on-Trent, giving an enhanced amenity to people in the city.”
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