ON SCHEDULE and with much of the work to be completed by November 2023, the Salisbury River Park Project is progressing to plan and to its £28 million budget.

With the project affecting residents and visitors to the area, the Journal asked readers to list their concerns or to ask questions ready for the Facebook Live so that the Environment Agency Team Lead, Andy Wallis could provide background information on the project. 

Funding has been a point of concern with some residents querying whether the funds come from local taxpayers. 

Andy confirmed almost all the funds were from the central government, and not from local taxes. The money was allocated for particular projects such as flood management and environmental opportunities.

Environment Agency Team lead, Andy Wallis said: “If we were not able to use the money here for this project, it would be used for a similar project somewhere else.”

Salisbury Journal: Image: Environment AgencyImage: Environment Agency (Image: Environment Agency)

Some residents were concerned that the site was just a mess.

Extending over a large area, it may not appear to have progressed greatly, but approximately 80 per cent of the work already completed is mostly hidden underground.

Andy said: “There were a lot of utilities to be moved around, including high-voltage electricity cables, and we moved the water mains. There are the groundworks and foundations for structures, and the need to determine conditions underground.”

Salisbury Journal: Image EAImage EA (Image: Environment Agency)

Questions as to why the project was needed were raised.

Work on the original designs began back in 2016-2017, but when the area flooded, they realised that they had to do more.

Wiltshire partners were looking to regenerate the area and improve the ecology of the water flowing through Salisbury while also enabling growth and redevelopment.

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Andy said: “Ecology can determine how and when certain elements are carried out. There are various restrictions on when we can work in the river channels themselves – between July and the end of October typically.

“In the next few months, the channel through the central car park should be pretty much done by mid-July and then, we can allow water back through that. In the next few months, things will start to fly more. The more visible structures, the new vehicle bridge is going in.

“At the moment, the foundations and 20-metre piles are going in to support the deck of the bridge. That will be a very visible thing.”

Most projects go over budget or are delayed but Andy confirmed that the project is on schedule with much of the work to be completed in November this year and the remainder of the work will be completed in April 2024. Landscaping work will take place over the winter months. 

In 2024, improvements will be made to the coach park.

Andy said: “The overall budget is £28 million which sounds like a lot of money, but it’s a medium-sized project. Due to inflation and steel and concrete costs doubling in the space of months, the budget has increased in the last year.”

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Within a year, residents could start to enjoy the changes and the project has been carefully designed to enable people to relax and enjoy the space once it is finished.

Andy said: It’s about creating a wonderful space for people and for wildlife. People will take different things from it. The biggest thing for me is the river and the wildlife.

“The work we are going to be doing will enable fish to migrate further upstream. Atlantic salmon migrate through here. The rivers incorporate an incredible number of species."

Some concern has arisen due to the closed footpath from Waitrose along the river into the centre and delays are inevitable. 

Andy said: “We were expecting it to be completed last year, but there is a large amount of BT cables to be diverted and we are still waiting.“

The footpath is likely to be closed until August.

Do you have any questions about the Salisbury River Park Project? Email us: newsdesk@salisburyjournal.co.uk