The Saffron Brook/Wash Brook is a major tributary of the River Soar in South Leicester, Oadby and Wigston and has been identified as a priority area for river restoration for the benefit of people and wildlife.
What is the aim of the scheme?
The brook begins in a rural setting in Oadby and flows through suburban areas. It continues through the racecourse and golf course, Knighton Park, and then through the Saffron Lane estate before it joins the River Soar near the gasworks on Aylestone Road.
Previous management works have made the brook unnatural with concrete banks and very little habitat for wildlife. Some sections suffer pollution and littering and are unsightly, bringing little value to local communities or nature. However, it has the potential to be a key wildlife corridor linking the centre of Leicester to rural Leicestershire and beyond.
Leicester City Council is working in partnership with Trent Rivers Trust and Oadby & Wigston Borough Council to restore the river ecosystems along the brook through re-naturalisation works to create diverse natural habitats. We will bring local communities closer to nature, offering a wide range of nature connection opportunities.
Where will the works take place?
Works are planned to take place at several sites along the length of the watercourse and adjacent land from Oadby into Knighton and Saffron Lane. We will concentrate high-impact intervention at 5 key sites along the brook:
- Overdale School
- Knighton Park
- Knighton Green
- Washbrook Nature Area
- Hughenden Drive
How will you make the river more natural?
There are lots of things we can do to make the river more natural. Some of the things that be done to the river itself are:
- Introduce wood and aquatic plants
- Use natural materials to support the riverbanks
- Tackle pollution
- Create nesting sites for kingfishers and otters
At the key sites there are opportunities to develop habitats adjacent to the watercourse. The project will carry out woodland management, plant trees, put up bat boxes, improve meadow grassland and create new wetland areas and ponds.
What activities will this offer?
Those involved want to offer a wide range of ways for people to connect to nature along the brook, especially for those who are new to the benefits of nature connection for health and wellbeing. Some of the activities the project will offer are:
- Guided group walks
- New footpaths, information boards and waymarked trails
- Sessions for schools
- Family activities
- Hands-on volunteer days
- Work experience for people aged 16-24
- Wildlife I.D. training
Who are we working with?
The Saving the Saffron Brook project is working across Leicester City Council departments and with a range of external organisations. The Trent Rivers Trust have developed a comprehensive set of works to re-naturalise the watercourse. Regular volunteer days will help care for land adjacent to the brook. The city council is working closely with schools along the catchment and partnering with Oadby and Wigston Borough Council to deliver into the county.
Local nature groups and special interest groups, employment and youth workers, community groups and others are working with us to deliver a meaningful project with nature and community at its heart.
For more information or to get involved, please contact Nesta.Birrell@leicester.gov.uk
Last updated: Monday, 4 July 2022 1:56 pm