Ashby councillors critical of 'ludicrous' plan to open up town brook through Bath Grounds - as fears over flooding are raised
By Graham Hill
29th Sep 2022 | Local News
A plan to 'daylight' Gilwiskaw Brook in the Bath Grounds has been described as potentially 'catastrophic' and 'ludicrous'.
Trent Rivers Trust has prepared a feasibility report on the project which was presented at Ashby de la Zouch Town Council's Parks and Cemetery Committee meeting on Monday.
The scheme would open up the brook which currently runs through a culvert straight underneath the town, emerging south of Ashby before joining the River Mease.
TRT wants to de-culvert the waterway to promote bio-diversity and wildlife, while providing an added feature for visitors to the Bath Grounds.
But this has raised concerns from both Ashby Bowls Club and Ashby Hastings Cricket Club, both of which are based there.
Town councillors also commented that risk of flooding in the town or on the Bath Grounds would increase if the waterway is opened up again.
Cllr Jim Hoult said that the brook was channelled in a straight line underneath the town for a good reason.
He said: "The culvert was put there to stop Ashby flooding.
"It goes from Brook Street and comes out the other side of the railway way line where the football ground is.
"The reason is it takes the water out of the town fast.
"I think if this plan happened, then insurance premiums for businesses would rocket.
"I'm against this all the way and I think it's absolutely ludicrous."
Cllr John Deakin, Ashby's Mayor, speaking as a member of the public, was also critical of the idea.
He said: "Trent Rivers Trust do a great deal of good work and try to make a difference in this area.
"But most of their work takes place in country areas not in urban areas.
"There are many considerations to take into account when undertaking a project of this magnitude and providing a new course, although I don't criticise the report itself.
"The site has Green Belt status, the highest level of planning protection against new developments, this would requite planning permission.
"It is a conservation area and on the site of a listed building, the Royal Hotel, the original Brook would have taken a different course originally.
"The site is already used by sports club and for organised events, and there would be a loss of land
"Also, Derbyshire County Council says that new water courses have attracted fly-tipping, vandalism and urban trash.
"In terms of potential flooding, I have grave concerns about this proposal, in particular, the cricket grounds area, the lowest lying of the grounds.
"The scheme itself is fine, but is in the wrong location and should be in open countryside.
"It would, in my opinion, be catastrophic."
Alan Graham, from the TRT, responded to the comments made during the meeting and said: "It's come across that there are some issues.
"But we're not just doing this for the wildlife, it's for the people as well.
"We're trying to create a better and more attractive environment.
"That's something we have to try and sell to you.
"With the cricket club, we've gone around the outfield so that wouldn't be affected, and there'd still be a large green area for events.
"You'd lose a bit of land, but I'd say the benefits outweigh any of the issues.
"The main thing I'd say about the flood risk assessment is that they are very expensive to do and, at the moment, this is a feasibility report and we haven't gone to that level yet, But it would certainly be done.
"We need to have discussions to see if people would want or not. It's something we'd like to do, but if there isn't the desire for it, we wouldn't go ahead with it."
But Cllr Barbara Kneale felt the project was worth looking into further and perhaps putting to the public.
She said: "I take from this that if it did flood, then it would be in the Bath Grounds and while reducing flooding in the town.
"A flood risk assessment would be important and would clarify that.
"Secondly, we need to have as wide a public consultation as possible to get the views of the people in the town.
"I've been to places like Salisbury and seen what they've done by using the water to make a really attractive park.
"I think it'd be interesting to take it further to see if it's a good idea or not. At the moment, we've got a one-sided view, everyone's opposing it here.
"But we should give people a say as a lot of people use the Bath Grounds."
The report adds that the 'reality' of deculverting the Brook is some way off but adds: "It will be necessary to undertake further consultation with both stakeholders and the users of Bath Grounds.
"Consultation will be required as part of seeking the necessary planning consents and environmental permission relating the de-culverting of a main river.
"Potentially, a more detailed design will be required as part of a planning application. This will need to consider a range of issues, not least health and safety concerns and the interface between the existing culvert and the new channel.
"A key part of the design stage will be the consideration of volume of spoil to be generated and options for removal. Some of the spoil could be used for landscaping within Bath Grounds.
"This could create interesting landforms as well as provide relatively low-nutrient substrates upon which wildflower grasslands could be created."