Our partners the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust has received initial support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the River Sherbourne Valley Living Landscape project, it was announced on 10th August. Made possible by National Lottery players, the scheme aims to reconnect the people of Coventry with the city’s river, restore the river for wildlife and complement the growing City of Culture programme linked to nature.
Development funding of £253,600 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help Warwickshire Wildlife Trust progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date.
The scheme will create 3 new jobs and aims to restore and celebrate the natural, built and cultural heritage of the river, which starts near Corley Moor to the west of the city and travels through a number of greenspaces like Coundon Wedge and Lakeview Park before passing beneath the city centre and then past the historic Charterhouse and its surrounding fields, eventually connecting to the River Sowe in Whitley.
A major part of the Lottery proposal is to create a wetland habitat area south of the Charterhouse, which builds on the work that Historic Coventry Trust is doing to naturalise the bank of the river immediately outside Charterhouse. This work should be completed by the end of the year.
Match funding for the scheme has been provided by Coventry City Council, the Environment Agency, Severn Trent, Citizen Housing and the Diocese of Coventry. Collaborating with those partners and others including the Coventry Society, Historic Coventry and City of Culture, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust will be working with local communities to enhance the area for the benefit of wildlife and people. Helping locals to improve, interpret, share and celebrate all aspects of the river’s heritage.
The scheme will investigate the possibility of using virtual reality and other innovative techniques to allow people to better understand where the river is beneath their feet in the city. Enabling people to reconnect with their river and celebrate the role it plays in the past, present and future.
A key element of the scheme is to raise awareness of the existing natural and built heritage already present on the river. Two Grade 2 listed bridges, one scheduled monument (a single span bridge) and two locally listed sluice gates span the river. The ruins of an old chapel sit adjacent to it in Spon End. These and other features go largely unnoticed by people who pass it during their busy lives. The scheme will aim to safeguard, restore and interpret these features to help the people of Coventry be proud of their river.
The scheme will also develop an extensive volunteer and events programme designed to enable local people to develop a sense of ownership for their river. Working with community groups and schools, people from across Coventry and further afield will benefit from a revitalised River Sherbourne, which will change lives forever.
Commenting on the award, Ian Jelley, Director of Living Landscapes at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said: “We’re absolutely thrilled with the news the National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting this scheme. We have been working in partnership with local people for over five years developing ideas and this investment enables us to make a real impact on the ground. 2020 is Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s 50th anniversary, and with next year being City of Culture, this is excellent timing. We are really excited at what this scheme could deliver for people and wildlife in Coventry.”
This Round 1 project will enable the WWT and its partners to develop a full project for Round Two, with a target funding level of £1,815.600 for a four year scheme.