Riverworks Proposals - The Story so Far
Preston City Council (PCC) have drawn up a range of options for developing Preston into the “third city of the North West”, the hub of which is to develop the River Ribble and surrounding area. City planners view the River as “bleak, barren and undeveloped”, and “severely underutilised”.
The Riverworks proposals being considered for development include:
- constructing a barrage or weir on the internationally important River Ribble;
- building thousands of houses, plus businesses, riverside shops and offices, a promenade, and roads on the green belt opposite Avenham and Miller Parks (their "Central Park" building development);
- further housing and business developments on Frenchwood Rec and Fishwick Bottoms, concretising the riverbanks upriver to Brockholes and create a water sports park on the river (their "Riverside East" development).
Valuable Green Belt and Local Amenities under threat.
These green belt areas also include a designated Nature Reserve, woodlands, fields and meadows and our local football league playing fields.
Penwortham Holme and all the allotments in this area of Penwortham are also included on the development proposals PCC call the "Composite Masterplan", available at Taylor Young architects under "urban" developments.
PCC’s proposals were described in an article in the Lancashire Evening Post (LEP) in June 2005. Since then, the City Council has been progressing these proposals, are currently drawing up a business plan and Deliverability Study, and have applied for further funding in order to complete a full Feasibility Study.
These studies will not be addressing the environmental impact of these proposals but their "commercial viability" and how they can be delivered (strategy, economics, timescale).
PCC applied to the Big Lottery Living Landmarks Fund for a grant of up to £50 million which council chiefs would use to “kick-start” the Riverworks project (see This is Lancashire archives, Riverworks article posted 16/2/06 at http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/). A large number of local residents wrote to the Big Lottery to object to this application, which subsequently failed: The Lottery Fund body insist that any successful project must show community support and involvement.
PCC have identified their 4 preferred sites for the barrage and the City Vision manager, Nicola Turner, has stated she wants the “Riverworks project to be well under way by 2012” (see LEP 14/02/06). Likewise, Veronica Afrin (Councillor with responsibility for regeneration, community and leisure services) has also stated that “the Riverworks project will…..be underway by 2012” (LEP 16/02/06).
These proposals appear to have been drawn up in consultation with various private developers (ie GVA Grimley, Mott Macdonald, and Taylor Young architects).
The proposals have the support of South Ribble Borough Council leader, Howard Gore, who stated that “these are really exciting ideas and we’re firmly behind the Riverworks initiative” (LEP 15/6/05 p.2).
Local residents along the Ribble corridor have not yet been consulted.
A large number of local residents are very concerned about these proposals.
Local councils throughout the Ribble corridor have not yet been consulted.
Fylde Borough Council and Freckleton Parish Council are amongst those opposed to the Ribble barrage.
Environmental organisations who are actively concerned with the River Ribble have not yet been consulted.
Environmental organisations are very concerned about the barrage proposal, including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, both the Lancashire and Ribble Fisheries Consultative Associations, the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, the Ribble Catchment Conservation Trust, and Buglife.
Preston Council leaders claim that the barrage will “enhance both the natural and built environment”.
This ignores the crucial importance to wildlife of this internationally recognised intertidal habitat, and the beauty and character of this unique river.
PCC claim a barrage will “help create a sense of place for a major river that has lost its identity as well as providing an attraction to the people of Preston and tourists alike” (01: Quality Riverside document on PCC website), and by developing on most of our green belt, and converting what remains into their proposed “Central Park”, they will “provide a…leisure and open space resource that is accessible to adjacent communities in Preston and South Ribble” (04: Central Park document on PCC website).
Depleting the character, integrity, and quality of this beautiful and valued river will destroy its identity!
How can building on green belt and local amenity provision be providing more open space?
Local residents both sides of the River already enjoy leisure time around the Ribble and value the quiet countryside on our doorstep, and our local amenities which already exist here. A barrage and the proposed “Central Park” will not only endanger the environment but also destroy what local residents value most about the area. Council leaders and planners would know this if they had bothered to ask us.
This area is also floodplain:
The Environment Agency are trying to halt further development on floodplain (see www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subjects/flood then follow links to “High Level Target 5: Development & Flood Risk 2004/5”).
You can view PCC’s proposals at www.preston.gov.uk/category.asp?cat=785 or enter Preston Riverworks on your search engine.
You can contact us by e-mail at email@example.com or write to Save the Ribble Campaign, PO Box 1104, Penwortham Preston PR2 0DB.