Major £1.29m new schemes for River Slea

The Rauceby Banks section of the River Slea, which is in line for enhancement by the new funding. EMN-190208-142817001
The Rauceby Banks section of the River Slea, which is in line for enhancement by the new funding. EMN-190208-142817001

Major ecological improvements are set to be made in riverside areas of Sleaford.

A total of £1.29 million has been allocated to Sleaford and Grantham with the aim of connecting communities and providing health benefits for residents by establishing and improving riverside walks and river environments.

A scheme called the Witham/Slea Blue Corridor Project has been launched and 60 per cent of the costs are being met from the European Union’s Regional Development Fund after successfully securing grants and the remaining 40 per cent is being provided by partners in the project – North Kesteven District Council, South Kesteven District Council, the Environment Agency, the National Trust, Lincolnshire Rivers Trust and local landowners.

A detailed funding bid for the European grant had been invited last year.

The work is due to be finished during 2022 and in Sleaford it aims to:

○ Improve the flow of the River Slea and increase the plant and natural habitat upstream of Castle Causeway and Watergate

○ Lift the footbridge to Cogglesford Mill to improve the habitat

○ Improve the Lollycocks area

○ Do footpath work along the river to provide a vital link to the town centre from new developments in the pipeline

Leader of North Kesteven District Council, Coun Richard Wright, said the riverside announcement was more great news for Sleaford.

“It comes hot on the heels of the announcements that the town is going to get a £4 million multi-screen cinema and the National Centre of Craft and Design is in line to have a £1.2 million refurbishment. The NCCD scheme includes a 200

square metre ground floor extension which will allow us to increase our artistic offer and secure 60 quality jobs in the town by letting out the top two floors to a local company.

“The council is involved in all of these projects which really are great for the town.”

The River Slea work is designed to create vibrant areas for residents and visitors and to improve the ecology of the area.

The river upstream often dries up, has poor access, and because of the intermittent flow rates, does not present a good environment for ecology. Given the future residential development proposed on its doorstep, the project can provide a more attractive and accessible environment. The Sleaford Masterplan also sees the River Slea corridor as valuable for recreation, tourism and biodiversity, serving to support and boost investment in the town.

Executive Board member at NKDC with special responsibility for the environment, Coun Mervyn Head, said the work would enhance the overall offer to visitors, existing and new residents and create safe routes for all age groups.

“This work will benefit local wildlife projects and provide an opportunity to plan for extra capacity along the rivers and walkways and we will be working with local groups and agencies to achieve this,” said Coun Head.

Birds that are internationally protected already visit this area. They include kingfishers, red kite, peregrine falcons, buzzards, tawny owls, barn owls and sparrow hawks.

“It is great that local people will be able to see even more of these birds and it is also really good news that more visitors will be attracted to the town which will benefit local businesses and traders,” said Coun Head.