River Ver Restoration Project

The Ver Valley Society is delighted with the ambitious proposals announced in March to improve 2.8 km of the Ver – one of the globally rare chalk streams – from St. Michael’s to Sopwell Mill. We believe that these plans will help towards our society achieving its long term aims for the river. They are on the St. Albans website here; Revitalising the River Ver.

As far as Verulamium Park and the lakes are concerned, the plans are very similar to the Halcrow Option 7a solution of 2004, but involve less engineering to the lakes (costed at £2M at the time!). They represent a once in a generation chance to create a lake and river area the people of St. Albans and our thousands of annual visitors can appreciate for years to come.

Reach 2 from the Causeway to Holywell Hill proposes two boardwalk sections for the Ver Valley Trail, one of which is almost identical to our proposal of 2014, plus a shorter section closer to Holywell Hill. We might well be able to support these financially with the remaining Friends of Ver Park funds.
Reach 3 from Holywell Hill to the Prospect Rd allotments proposes channel improvements but little real change. We think the narrow footbridge should be replaced with a ramped structure like the bridge at Hyde Lane in Frogmore but oddly this is not mentioned.

Reach 4 to Cottonmill Lane proposes moving the existing river alignment to the lowest point of the valley (necessitating relocation of some of the existing allotments). It makes eminent environmental sense to create a wetland here through which the Ver Valley Trail will wind, and avoid flooding of the remaining allotments as the water table rises following reduced abstraction at Mud Lane and Holywell Hill pumping stations from the 2020’s.

Reaches 5 and 6 have various small changes to narrow and improve the channel, and the Ver Valley trail, and they have taken on board Ver Valley Society efforts to create a wildflower meadow south of the Alban Way bridge – by lowering the banks here this would become a water meadow.

Encouragingly, these proposals can be implemented independently as funding becomes available, providing opportunities for us to get involved both practically and financially as they come to fruition, along with our old friends at Countryside Management Service.

Martin Frearson

Ver Valley Society