Opening up the River Lea in Luton?

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Affinity Water has announced new works to improve the environment of the River Lea in Luton.

Works are due to take place at Manor Road Park this autumn.

The company stated: “We have been working with the Environment Agency and Luton Borough Council to agree a proposal to improve the habitat and flow of the river. This will help to increase numbers of fish, invertebrates and plants, as well as creating a recreational space for everyone to enjoy the river.”

Currently, the River Lea flows along the eastern edge of Manor Road Park in a deep, restricted channel. The riverbed is concrete and the river runs between concrete walls or steps with metal railings.

The way the river flows also means that silt covers the natural gravels, which makes it harder for fish and other creatures to thrive.

Planned works include:

<Removing the concrete river bed and on the right bank removing the concrete steps, tarmac path, concrete and brick wall and metal railings.

<Make the river narrower and more winding.

<Improve the shape of the riverbanks to give a stable slope that will not be at risk of erosion or collapse and will encourage a greater variety of plants on the bank and in the river.

<Remove some branches of the large and over-hanging trees on the left or east bank to allow more light to reach the river and encourage more plant growth in the river and at the water’s edge.

By doing this, Affinity Water hopes to improve the biodiversity of the river to support a better variety of plants and creatures in the water and on the river banks.

It also hopes to reduce the risk of flooding, make the river safer and provide a pleasant and usable space for residents.

Public consultations are ongoing about what will happen to the children’s play area nearby and Affinity Water is encouraging resident to attend to a drop-in session on April 12 about the plans.

<The drop-in session will take place at Manor Road Park on April 12 from 10am until 4pm, with more information provided about these river works.

You can also fill in a questionnaire here.