New riverside park for Stonebridge

Work has begun on the digging of a new river channel for the River Alt at Stonebridge, North Liverpool, in order to open up the river and create a new riverside park.

The River Alt Restoration project will realign the section of the river between the A580 East Lancashire Road and Parkstile Lane, and is due to be completed in spring of next year.

Deculverting, also known as ‘daylighting’, involves opening up buried watercourses and restoring them back to more natural conditions. Currently a 300m length of river runs underground within a concrete culvert – an enclosed channel. Contractor William Pye is constructing a new, meandering 870m river alignment, which will be at the heart of a restoration scheme that re-naturalises the river corridor and provides a mosaic of habitats and green space for the public to enjoy.

The project is led by the Cass Foundation, a Liverpool-based charity, whose purpose is to improve people’s physical and mental health by enabling them to enjoy a healthy environment.

Richard Cass, Chair of the Foundation, said: “There is widespread evidence that giving people access to attractive green space is very beneficial to their health. It can help with a wide range of conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, cancer and general fitness. This project means we can create not only a healthier river, but also a new green walking and cycling route linking Stonebridge Business Park and Alt Park and, we hope, eventually through to Croxteth Country Park”.

The scheme will form an extension to an earlier project of Richard’s nearby where Sugar Brook, a tributary of the Alt, was diverted and new habitats created as part of Stonebridge Business Park. These have been highly successful, resulting in breeding success for swans, mallard and moorhen. The new river channel will create valuable habitats for water vole and kingfisher, protected species which are known to occur locally. Improving aeration and light penetration in the water course will also locally enhance water quality, flora and fauna.

The diversion of the water course away from the culvert plus the increase in flood storage capacity in the new channel will reduce flood risk in the area.

Staff and students from the University of Liverpool, led by Professor Janet Hooke, will be involved in monitoring and studying the success of the project.

The route will also help connect Croxteth residents with the new local retail centre recently announced for Stonebridge, on the northern side of the East Lancashire Road.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, and Chair of the Stonebridge Stakeholders Group, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said: “This is an important piece of work, which will make use of the natural environment to create a stunning green setting at the heart of the Stonebridge development area.

“Plans are moving forward to deliver new shopping, leisure and education facilities for Stonebridge, creating 1,000 jobs. This new river channel will play an important role in our work to transform the area and create an attractive, vibrant location for local people and visitors alike.”

The Cass Foundation is working in partnership with the Environment Agency, Liverpool City Council and the Community Forest Trust. The £1.5m funding has come from Liverpool City Council and the Department of Food and Rural Affairs, through the Environment Agency’s Catchment Restoration Fund.

The Cass Foundation works with individuals, organisations and communities to research, collaborate on, promote and deliver projects that focus on health and the environment. It is running twice-monthly Walk and Talk events for anyone interested in finding out more about the River Alt Restoration project. Further information is available on their website: www.cassfoundation.org.uk; or on Project Dirt, the online network for community and environmental projects: www.projectdirt.com/project/11125