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Save the River Ribble

Atlantic Salmon | 30.04.2006 18:47 | Ecology | Free Spaces | Liverpool

Help stop the barrage across the River Ribble - a secretive plan to turn greenbelt land in Preston and South Ribble into a playground for jetskiing yuppies at the expense of local wildlife and regardless of the views of locals...

Preston City Council (PCC) have drawn up proposals to make Preston the “third city of the North West”, the hub of which is to develop the River Ribble and surrounding area. City planners view the River as “bleak, barren and undeveloped”, and Penwortham green belt as “severely underutilised”. The "Riverworks" proposals are to build a barrage on the Ribble and build thousands of luxury houses, plus business premises, riverside shops and offices, a promenade, and roads on the countryside area opposite Avenham and Miller Parks. This area also includes a designated Nature Reserve, woodlands, fields and meadows and our local football league playing fields. Penwortham Holme and all the allotments in this area of Penwortham are also included on the development proposals.
PCC’s proposals were described in an article in the Lancashire Evening Post (LEP) in June 2005.
Since then, the City Council has been progressing these proposals, are currently drawing up a business plan and have applied for further funding in order to complete full Feasibility and Deliverability Studies. These studies will not be addressing the environmental impact of these proposals but how they can be delivered (strategy, economics, timescale). PCC has applied to the Big Lottery Living Landmarks Fund for a grant of up to £50 million which council chiefs would use to “kick-start” the Riverworks project (see This is Lancashire archives, Riverworks article posted 16/2/06 at
PCC have identified their 4 preferred sites for the barrage and the city vision manager for the Council, Nicola Turner, has stated she wants the “Riverworks project to be well under way by 2012” (see LEP 14/02/06). Likewise, Veronica Afrin (Councillor with responsibility for regeneration, community and leisure services) has also stated that “the Riverworks project will… underway by 2012” (LEP 16/02/06). You can view PCC’s proposals at or enter Preston Riverworks on your search engine.
These proposals appear to have been drawn up in consultation with various private developers (ie GVA Grimley, Mott Macdonald, and Taylor Young architects). PCC’s “composite masterplan” can also be viewed on Taylor Young’s website The proposals have the support of South Ribble Borough Council leader, Howard Gore, who stated that “these are really exciting ideas and we’re firmly behind the Riverworks initiative” (LEP 15/6/05 p.2). Local residents in Preston and South Ribble have not as yet been consulted.
Council leaders claim that the barrage will “enhance both the natural and built environment”, but this ignores the crucial importance to wildlife of this internationally recognised intertidal habitat. They claim a barrage will “help create a sense of place for a major river that has lost its identity as well as providing an attraction to the people of Preston and tourists alike” (01: Quality Riverside document on PCC website), and by developing on most of our green belt, and converting what remains into their proposed “Central Park”, they will “provide a…leisure and open space resource that is accessible to adjacent communities in Preston and South Ribble” (04: Central Park document on PCC website). In fact local residents both sides of the River already enjoy leisure time around the Ribble and value the quiet countryside on our doorstep, and our local amenities which already exist here. A barrage and the proposed “Central Park” will not only endanger the environment but also destroy what local residents value most about the area. Council leaders and planners would know this if they had bothered to ask us.

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