Wiltshire Council: The Salisbury River Park Project

The Salisbury River Park project is a collaborative project between Wiltshire Council and the Environment Agency, with support from both the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) and Salisbury City Council to deliver essential flood alleviation and major environmental improvements through the central riverside spine of the historic city of Salisbury.

The challenge

The ‘River Park’ is a joined-up response to a range of challenges facing the city, including responding to flood risk across a large area of the city centre, improving the ecological condition of the River Avon Special Area of Conservation, enabling the city to adapt to climate change, and promoting recovery and regeneration in response to both the nerve agent attacks in 2018, and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic.

The solution

The Salisbury River Park project will be delivered in several phases, with the first element (‘Phase 1’) delivering the core elements of the flood risk alleviation objectives, at the Maltings and Central Car Park (Viewpoint 1), and Ashley Road Open Space/Fisherton Recreation Ground (Viewpoint 2). Funding for the majority of Phase 1 has been secured through SWLEP, Flood Defence Grant in Aid, Local Levy funding from the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, Department for Education and National Highways Designated Funds.

It will deliver the following benefits: 

  • Protection of approximately 250 existing residential and 100 non‐residential properties from flooding, and reduction of flood risk to key transport infrastructure including the A36 trunk road.
  • Improving the city’s riverside setting by creating a linear park alongside the river and creating undisturbed and improved wildlife areas with significant new vegetation planting for the benefit of wildlife.
  • Creation of two hectares of new high quality riverside habitat, new wetland areas and rewilding. This will improve biodiversity of the internationally designated River Avon watercourses and help protect several threatened species through the removal of barriers and enhanced wildlife habitats.
  • 650m of new and improved cycle routes and 1,600m of new and improved footpaths to encourage a modal shift towards sustainable travel modes such as walking and cycling. This will also provide carbon reduction and air quality benefits.
  • Provision of new planting, including 600 new trees.
  • Provision of outdoor education and training opportunities, to encourage more engagement, particularly from young people, in the river environment.
  • Enabling the redevelopment of a major strategic urban regeneration site allocated in the council’s Local Plan, considered vital to the future resilience of Salisbury city centre, by reducing flood risk within and around the site.
  • Improvement to amenity and physical and mental wellbeing for visitors and residents, enhancing a key tourist gateway to support increased visitor numbers.
  • Improving climate change resilience.

The impact

The River Park project has been ongoing for approximately 2.5 years. Since 2020, despite the challenges of COVID-19, strong collaborative working has ensured major progress on the project has been made with a full planning application for Phase 1 submitted and approved in 2021, and construction works having commenced in 2022. Completion is expected in 2024.

Lessons learned

Through working in partnership, a more comprehensive and sustainable scheme has been developed than would have occurred if the organisations had worked in isolation. This is particularly true for the environmental and amenity benefits that the project will bring.


David Milton, project lead for Wiltshire Council

[email protected]

Infographic of Salisbury Park