River Lea running through Luton park is transformed

Luton's Manor Road Park has been officially re-opened following transformative improvement works to the River Lea.

Wednesday, 31st October 2018, 2:18 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st October 2018, 3:20 pm
(From left) Affinity Water Project Manager Jane Everett, Cllr Paul Castleman (portfolio holder for highways), Deputy Mayor Cllr Mark Rivers, Friends of Manor Park Bill Burton, Luton Council Project Champion Kat Wysocka, Cllr Rachel Hopkins (portfolio holder for public health), Affinity Water Asset Director Marie Whaley and Environment Agency Project Manager Lauren Naish PNL-181030-123710001

On Monday, October 22, the Deputy Mayor of Luton Councillor Mark Rivers, Councillor Rachel Hopkins and Councillor Paul Castleman were present for the launch of the revamped area.

The river restoration and park improvements were carried out by Affinity Water in collaboration with Luton Council, The Luton Lea River Catchment Partnership and The Environment Agency.

It is part of a wider programme to restore chalk streams to their natural flow and help create sustainable habitats to allow fish, insects and plants to flourish. Chalk streams are globally rare habitats with just 240 of them in England, which the River Lea is a part of.

Manor Road Park before the work PNL-181030-123737001

The river has been reconnected to the surrounding environment by removing the concrete steps and channel, which confined the river along the edge of the park behind iron railings. A new meandering river channel has been created reconnecting the river to its natural flood plain, which will help ease flood water further downstream during times of high flow.

Riffles and pools were used in creating the new river channel. Riffles are the shallower, faster moving sections of a river and has cleaner gravel where fish like to spawn. Pools are the deep, slower, flowing areas enabling fish to rest. New riverbanks were also created to support a better variety of plants and wildlife.

Local residents also flocked to Manor Road Park last Monday to learn more about the improvements and to pick up free water saving devices from the Water Saving Squad in the Affinity Water marquee.

Affinity Water’s Asset Strategy Director, Marie Whaley said: “We are a community focused water company and are keen to work with local organisations and community groups to deliver on environmental projects to protect globally rare chalk streams.

Manor Road Park after the work PNL-181030-123725001

“The river restoration work along Manor Road Park has been truly transformative and we hope that local residents will enjoy the new look and feel of their area.”

Cllr Rivers said: “It was great to come to Manor Park today to see the excellent changes that have taken place. The River Lea meanders through the park in the way it naturally should and the water is clear and bright. This is now a great space for all visitors to the park, people and wildlife alike. It’s a huge improvement and I’d like to congratulate all involved in the project.”

For more information about the work in Manor Road Park, visit www.affinitywater.co.uk/riverlea