Dramatic Verulamium Park and River Ver improvement proposals released

The River Ver. Picture: Danny Loo

The River Ver. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

An ambitious project to return the River Ver to its more natural state as it runs through the centre of St Albans has been launched.

The plan will include significant enhancements to Verulamium Park and the water quality of its artificial lakes.

Major improvements will also be made to the surrounding wildlife and landscape including the creation of accessible wetlands teeming with birds, fish and insects as well as plants.

The Environment Agency has been working on the plan along with St Albans district council, which owns the park, and other partners.

Nearby residents and interested organisations are to be told in detail about the project and asked for their views.

Initial work is due to start in 2019 once the precise cost – likely to be a seven-figure sum – is established. It will take several years to complete with funding expected to come from several sources.

The main aim is to improve a 2.5 kilometre section of the rare chalk stream that flows through the park to Sopwell Mill Farm.

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This will involve narrowing the Ver at some points after it enters the park to improve the flow, and create riffles, pools and meanders. The gravel bed will be naturally cleared of silt.

The river’s concrete banks will be dismantled and replaced by soil, grasses and plants.

Councillor Daniel Chichester-Miles, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for the Environment, said: “We have been working flat out behind the scenes with the Environment Agency and other partners on this exciting and transformational project.

“The condition of the two lakes is a major local issue and we have been determined to find a comprehensive, long-term solution that will revitalise that area of the park. This project will do all of that and more.

“The Ver will be allowed to take a more natural course, the lakes will be freshened up, wildlife will be better supported and fabulous new wetlands will be created.

“Verulamium Park is already a major visitor attraction and this will make it even more popular in the years ahead as there will be so much more to enjoy and discover.

“We are also committed to engage with the allotment holders and nearby residents who may be affected by the changes. We will explain everything in detail to them to win their support for the scheme.”

More information is available at www.revitalisingtheriver.co.uk

Find out more about the proposals in this week’s Herts Ad.