Stour Valley water meadows along the River Stour

Last updated 2nd June 2023

The Project

On land previously known as Hicks Farm, the Stour Valley water meadows project at Throop is opening up an exciting new area of approximately 12 hectares (30 acres) of BCP Council green space along the River Stour, offering people more opportunity to get outside and explore the great outdoors. The water meadows will include a variety of circular walks, and semi-natural spaces to explore. There will be a new car park, gravel paths and grassy paths, benches and informative signs. The area will also provide space for dogs to exercise.

The project has been designed to protect and enhance the existing wildlife habitats and species in the local area, whilst making improvements by planting thousands of new trees within new copses and by reinstating old hedgerows lost previously due to changes in agricultural practices. We will also be managing the majority of the floodplan meadow through conservation grazing and this will improve the wildflower diversity within that grassland.

Stour Valley water meadows - aerial concept

Planning approval was granted in 2021 (Application reference 7-2021-7824-C). A number of technical assessments have been completed to consider potential impacts upon ecology, trees, transport, heritage, flood risk and landscape, as well as opportunities for enhancement. Planning Conditions were discharged in January 2023.

Works started in spring 2023; they are expected to be completed and the water meadows open to the public by late summer.

Project Updates

w/c 22 May

Works have progressed well in the field areas as the final finish limestone surface is being laid on the 3m wide footway. The contractors have started from the entrance at Watery Lane working their way to the joining path to the River Stour weir. The 1.5m footpath is well underway and will see the same surface dressing laid next week.

Hardstanding furniture is due to be delivered and installed next week comprising of two cycle stands at each entrance to the fields, as well as benches spread out to enjoy the views across to the river.

w/c 08 May

Excavation works have taken place over the past two weeks to create the 3m wide footpath within the main SANG field. This links the Stour Valley pedestrian gate along Watery Lane and will connect into the existing footpath, accessed via Throop Road, going toward the River Stour weir.

The weather last weekend slowed progress at the beginning of the week, but the contractors have been able to trim up the current footpath meaning there are less bumps and a better fall on the edges, ready for the limestone surface dressing to be laid shortly.

Thursday saw the first section of cell web installed within the footpath, allowing a no dig solution ensuring the load placed upon it is laterally dispersed rather than transferring to the soil and roots below, preventing root severance.

w/c 24 April

This week the contractors arrived to mobilise and set up their working area. The plant and machinery have been delivered as well as welfare cabins.

In order to access the main SANG field at the rear of Hicks Farm, avoiding traffic movement through Throop Village, the contractors have been making a haul road. Next week we will see the works move to the main SANG fields as the 3m wide footpaths will be excavated to level.

w/c 03 April

Our SANG Ranger has been out with countryside volunteers planting new hedgerows within the main field. There are a range of hedgerow plants comprising:

  • Acer campestre
  • Cornus sanguinea
  • Corylus avellana
  • Crataegus monogyna
  • Malus sylvestris
  • Rosa canina
  • Viburnum opulus.

w/c 27 March

This week the first phase of fencing has been installed and extended along the bank of the River Stour to increase protection of riverside habitats.

01 March

Due to bird nesting season, a trained ecologist was on site first thing this morning to check the vegetation. Nothing of concern was found and all on-site clearance was completed today.

w/c 27 February

Vegetation Clearance

This week we have Homegrown Timber (Rail) Ltd, who are an Arboricultural Association Approved Contractor, on site carrying out vegetation clearance to the compound area at Hicks Farm and clearance of bramble along the edge of the main SANG field.

Some trees require cutting back, particularly in the car park entrance, and one tree requires felling near the path entrance at Watery Lane. We are conscious that bird nesting season is upon us from 1st March inclusive, and should the clearance works overrun we have arranged for a trained ecologist to be on site to oversee all works past this date.

Location & Accessibility

Stour Valley water meadows will be accessed from Throop Road and Watery Lane for pedestrians and cycles.

It will be served by a new, nearby car park off of Taylor Drive, including some disabled parking spaces. The gravel paths will be suitable for pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. There will be benches and dog bins in the park. There will be cycle parking at both entrances.

Stour Valley water meadows will be a SANG

SANGs (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces) are purposely designed to encourage people to use them for leisure purposes, rather than visiting the Dorset Heathlands which are of national and European nature conservation importance and designated as a Special Protection Area.

All new housing developments in Poole and Bournemouth make a financial contribution towards a package of mitigation measures, including the creation of natural green space. This has already led to the creation of 30 hectares of new natural green space at Upton Park Farm in Poole and over 14 hectares of new natural greenspace at Canford Park in Bearwood. The creation of natural green space accessible to the public along the River Stour at Throop will complement this and help to meet the needs of future generations.

Project details

Total Budget £898,000
Funding Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Heathland Mitigation (£798,000) and other (£100,000)
Project Leader Katie Azulay
T. 01202 123123

Project documents

Join us on Facebook

Keep up-to-date

Parks & Open Spaces Newsletter; please click here to subscribe to a regular copy