More cash pledged to £175,000 River Slea make-over project

In line for enhancement. The River Slea, close to The Drove. EMN-180515-130134001
In line for enhancement. The River Slea, close to The Drove. EMN-180515-130134001

North Kesteven District Council’s executive board has agreed to put in the remaining money needed to unlock EU funding for a £175,000 project to develop and enhance the riverside through Sleaford.

Council officers had put in an ‘Expression of Interest’ bid for European Regional Development Fund money in partnership with South Kesteven District Council.

Branded the Witham/Slea Blue Green Corridor, they combined their bids to make it large enough to be considered by the fund which is designed for projects preserving and protecting the environment. The projects aim to bring ecology and access improvements along the rivers where they flow through urban areas.

Now a detailed bid has been invited for £105,000, with another £50,000 secured in developer contributions from the major Sleaford West urban extension planned off The Drove, where the river to the west of the town forms its southern boundary. Councillors agreed last week to make up the difference by offering £20,000, plus another £10,000 contingency fund.

The proposals for Sleaford would see river bank enhancements, improved public access including foot/cycle path improvement to provide a vital link to the town centre from the new developments without the need for a car, while also upgrading the water quality and habitat environment in and around the River Slea.

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, it was believed by the council the project could play a key role in presenting a more attractive and accessible environment for future residential development.

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.

Alan Gray, Economic Development Manager, said: “The next stage is to submit a full application by June 1 working with South Kesteven District Council and the Environment Agency. We expect to know the outcome of the full bid later in the year.”

If approved, work could start in 2019.