We are working together with Wyre Council to reduce flood risk, improve access and create habitat at King Georges Playing Fields in Thornton Cleveleys. The playing fields are often wet and hold little value for wildlife. By restoring Royles Brook which runs through the site and creating areas of wetland and woodland, we hope to create a dynamic park for people and wildlife to enjoy. Read on to find out more about the project.
Rapid development of the Fylde Coast over the last 250 years has seen natural streams rapidly modified to make way for housing, industry and business development. Streams were culverted, straightened and disconnected from their floodplains. As land became more scarce, other freshwater habitats such as ponds, wetlands, marshes and mosses were drained to facilitate the post-war housing boom. This means that natural freshwater habitats are extremely limited on the Fylde Coast. An unintended consequence of these changes to these habitats is flooding, with 3000 houses at risk of flooding in the Thornton area.
Previously the answer to this issue has been hard engineering, dredging and the use of pumps to move water. Unfortunately, these actions are expensive and can be damaging to the natural environment. Therefore, the Wyre Rivers Trust and its partners have been working to deliver natural flood management (NFM) solutions, across the Wyre Catchment.
Thornton Flood Risk Resilience Project
The Thornton Flood Risk Resilience (TFRR) project is a series of works to decrease the risk of flooding for houses and business in Thornton through the restoration of habitats and waterways. At King Georges Playing Field, works are planned to restore Royles Brook and part of its floodplain through the creation of wetlands and wet woodland.
Wetlands have a wonderful ability to store water during stormy and wet weather, before releasing it as flood waters recede. During periods of drought, wetlands slowly release water into nearby streams, protecting aquatic life from desiccation. In addition, wetlands plants also improve water quality, by filtering water and removing harmful substances, ensuring that the water which flows out of wetlands is significantly cleaner than that which flows into them. Wetlands also provide homes for a diversity of animals and plants.
Restoring Royles Brook
As part of this project we have re-profiled a short reach of Royles Brook, which will allow natural processes to take place in this reach of Royles Brook for the first time in around 130 years! These processes will allow a much wider range of aquatic life to flourish in this area. It will also mean that Royles Brook is connected to its floodplain, ensuring that it can spill floodwaters, protecting properties downstream of the site. A pond that can be seen on historic maps of the site will also be restored. Ponds have a wide range of benefits for the environment and can be extremely beneficial in storing floodwater. Stormwaters will be filtered by wetland plants that will take up water and remove pollutants. Wet woodland will be created, helping to protect the natural environment by storing water and carbon, intercepting rainfall and improving soil structure. We also aim to reintroduce black poplar to the site, a tree species which has become increasingly rare in the last 100 years.
Site works are in progress and will continue through into October 2023 with tree planting and wetland planting commencing in November 2023.
Access for all
A new 300 m surfaced path has been created and 25m of boardwalk will be created to ensure that green and blue spaces continue to be accessible to the public. Both the path and boardwalk will be accessible for wheelchair users ensuring that a wide range of people will be able to access the site. The playing fields will be unaffected by the works, ensuring people can still use them at their leisure.
The future of the site
The site will be maintained by Wyre Council, its coast and countryside volunteer group and by the Wyre Rivers Trust and its volunteer group.
Working to reduce flood risk in Thornton Cleveleys.
We aim to monitor, restore and educate about our river and its catchment.
We are always looking for volunteers to help us in our work
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Wyre Rivers Trust – Registered Charity Number: 1161776
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