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 ‘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 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, and Local Levy funding from the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.
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 help protect several threatened species through the removal of barriers and enhanced wildlife habitats.
- Encouraging modal shift away from the private car towards walking and cycling thereby providing cleaner air.
- Provision of new planting, including a significant number of 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 well-being for visitors and residents, enhancing a key tourist gateway to support increased visitor numbers.
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 detailed design having commenced. Construction works are expected to commence in early 2022, with completion in 2024.
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.