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Nuneaton Riversley Park - Bank Areas and Maintenance

Published on Wednesday, 22nd July 2020

"We hope residents will take a look at the amended plans when we are able to release them in the next few months and see the improvements we put forward in February in terms of the river ‘corridor’."

Further to recent press coverage seeking restoration of Riversley Park to ‘its former glory’ NBBC wish to highlight again the recent extensive public consultation work in February on a ‘Concept Plan’ to steer the development of Riversley Park in the next 15 years using ‘planning gain’ section 106 sums that will result from new housing developments in the town and from grant funders.

That consultation set out a wide range of improvement proposals to utilise these funds and we will be publicising the consultation key findings and related amendments to the plans in the next few months.

The river corridor (that was a particular source of concern to residents as reported) was specifically highlighted in February in those ‘concept’ proposals for improvement -  both in terms of general appearance and in terms of the creation of an extensive new surfaced riverside path. Over 1.5km of new path would be created which along with existing paths will give a riverside path route between the town centre and Marston Lane of over 2.7km and this aspect of the proposals was one of the best received suggestions in the consultation.

Cllr Ian Lloyd - Portfolio holder for Arts and Leisure said:

"In terms of appearance of the riverbank in the main formal area of the park we agree it has been relatively unsightly as a result of keeping longer areas of vegetation to keep people a little back from the river’s edge which is a water safety requirement. We already shared the residents own concerns - which is why a new approach was specifically included in the consultation undertaken in February and we have been seeking a source of funding for this change - without burdening the Council taxpayer - to allow a more formal presentation of the river whilst still keeping people reasonably safe.

"The park development proposals are likely to result in a low level ‘knee-rail’ on the riverbank with new flowering plants for wildlife in the water’s edge. That approach will increase the visibility of, and the attractiveness of the river in the main part of the park, and allow us to mow a lot nearer the water’s edge whilst still meeting water safety requirements. Once the relevant funds are received they will be utilised at the earliest opportunity to make those changes.

"In the meantime I have asked the parks officers to specifically review the current management of the banks to see what improvements can be made whilst we await the future arrival of the external funds. A meeting has already taken place with the grounds maintenance  contractor and residents can expect to see some moderate changes over the next 1-2 weeks that will increase visibility and presentation of the river whilst meeting water safety requirements and avoiding harm to e.g. nesting birds and water voles.

"Relatively little actual litter was present in the main park section or river and riverbank when officers walked the site with the contractor this week, but we would agree the longer vegetation gives a definite unkempt feel to the river.

"In terms of the idea of returning boats to the river we are aware of the public affection for this from childhood etc and did consider the possibility of this carefully in preparing the concept plan for the park  - in the same way we have been able to propose bringing back the whale through a whale-themed splashpark. Unfortunately, the combination of the costs of providing boats, securely storing them, staffing the hire of the boats and ‘policing’ the return of boats etc - along with initial and future dredging costs are all prohibitive. In addition, historic changes to the river as a result of the flood relief channel and possible future changes to the river outside of our control to meet water quality requirements has meant that the river is too shallow for boats prior to dredging, which makes the proposal unviable.

"Should a commercial operator come forward willing to carry out all those works and bear those costs (that can secure the consent of the Environment Agency etc) and in that way make that provision without adding that significant initial and ongoing burden of costs onto Council taxpayers – then we of course would be willing to explore the idea with them.

"In terms of general maintenance standards relative to for example The Miners' Welfare Park, this is something the parks officers have identified themselves and that also came up in the recent consultation for the park too. When we put out the consultation results, residents will see this is identified as a specific issue that will be reviewed with the grounds maintenance contractor. During a recent site visit, a range of issues were highlighted to the contractor which should be addressed over the next 1- 2 weeks - but we intend to keep this under further and ongoing review.

"Lastly, in terms of the ‘duck pond’ opposite the museum – this belongs to Sainsbury’s not the Council, but Sainsbury’s have worked with the Council in the past on this, and again in the February consultation this area was specifically identified by us in the proposals as needing improvements. So our position again actually chimes with that of the residents, and we will in due course be starting a dialogue with Sainsbury’s, but will be working up some more detailed proposals following on from the concept plan before we sit down with them. In terms of the duck feeding platform, we gated that off when it became unsafe from decay of timbers etc, but again the revised concept plans will be showing a new safe area for feeding ducks on a section of the riverbank. 

"We hope residents will take a look at the amended plans when we are able to release them in the next few months and see the improvements we put forward in February in terms of the river ‘corridor’ and that further developments have been made in light of the consultations carried out."