A transformative project is underway to design a new river channel and park area along the Cong Burn between Cone Terrace and Chester Park in Chester-le-Street and the local community is now being invited to provide feedback during a consultation event at the Parish Centre from Thursday 21st February.
The Wear Rivers Trust are working in partnership with the Environment Agency and Durham County Council to redesign the 200 m long concrete section of the Chester Burn which runs from Cone Terrace down to Chester Park. The watercourse in its current state is a concrete channel hidden from public view, which has a very low ecological value and is considered to be one of the main reasons why there are so few fish in the Cong Burn.
The project aims to restore the concrete channel back to a natural river to improve instream habitat for fish looking to replenish fish populations in the upper reaches of the catchment. The scheme also aims to improve the area for local people by creating an attractive, newly landscaped green corridor which will not only be more accessible for fish but will also provide an ecologically diverse and relaxing environment for local residents to enjoy as well.
The project team including cbec eco-engineering have now produced outline drawings for the site and are calling upon the general public to provide feedback on the proposals at the “Cong Burn Restoration Event” which is being held from 13:00 – 18:00 on Thursday 21st February at The Parish Centre in Chester-le-Street. The event will be attended by a range of different partner organisations who have been involved in the development and delivery of the project and will be ready for any questions or feedback received on the day. As well as information about the project, there will also be information about other local environmental projects, including a Heritage Lottery Funded project called “Greening the Twizell Project” which aims to reconnect local communities with their industrial and natural heritage, a river catchment simulator which will be used to demonstrate the benefits of river restoration, childrens activities, cake, teas and coffees.
Project lead and senior project officer for the Wear Rivers Trust, Steve Hudson said “We’ve been working on many fascinating community led projects throughout the Cong and Twizell Burn catchments for many years but this one has really captured everyone’s imagination in terms of what can be achieved by working together, not only for wildlife but also the local community and now we have received outline designs and artistic visualisations we are very much looking forward to hearing what the general public have to say.”
Environment Agency project manager, Shonah Holland also said “The lower reaches of the Cong Burn has been tampered with for hundreds of years due to urbanisation and flood defence schemes, which unfortunately has interrupted natural river processes and led to the loss of habitats.” Shonah added “it is hoped that through effective partnership working and the participation of the local community, the project can go on to achieve catchment wide ecological benefits whilst also providing local residents and visitors to the town centre with a green space to relax and connect with nature.”