Construction work has commenced on a new 250-berth marina on land to the south-west of the Seven Meadows Bridge. The aim is to launch in the late autumn. It will have a natural water body design complemented by floating jetties so that boats will be shielded from changes in water level. It will offer a range of facilities including a shower block with laundry, fuel and service pedestals with water and electricity.
Situated on the River Avon, administered by the Avon Navigation Trust, the marina will offer boating enthusiasts the opportunity to pass through the heart of England, via a mixture of canals and rivers, as part of the Avon ring. This linked set of waterways provides passage through Evesham, Tewkesbury, Worcester and Birmingham as well as access to the national network.
The development is highly controversial because it is destroying a substantial area (about 16 acres) of natural green riverside land, very close to the town and less than 400 metres from Holy Trinity Church. The Stratford Society has long raised objections to the development, for the following reasons:
- Planning permission was originally granted in 1974 and is outdated and should no longer be valid, but the developers have exploited a legal loophole;
- A significant area of floodplain will be lost, exacerbating flooding downstream;
- The land has important ecological value for the variety of habitats and wildlife that it supports. The Ecological Impact Assessment identified an SSSI and numerous important wildlife sites in the vicinity and a number of protected species;
- It falls within the area covered by the Neighbourhood Plan, which supports the preservation of green spaces around the town (Policy NE1).
- Specifically the Neighbourhood Plan mandates retaining the open and natural character of the riverside corridor and biodiversity in river meadows (Policy NE2). On the proposals map, it designates the site of the marina as falling within an area of restraint;
- It is contiguous with the Riverside Green Corridor, which the District Council is currently promoting for recreation;
- It should be classified as a Local Nature Reserve and maintained as natural green riverside land.