Restoration of the River Lea, Manor Rd Park, Luton
The River Lea is located within the Thames River Basin in the Upper Lee catchment. The river passes under central Luton in a 1km-long culvert before it emerges between Windmill Road and Manor Road Park at NGR TL 09868 21026. Through Manor Road Park the river has been heavily modified in the past through channel realignment, straightening and culverting leading to a poor hydromorphological and ecological condition, including excessive deposition of fine sediment. This project aimed to restore this reach within the constraints of an urban environment and sought buy in from the local community to help support the project.
Full restoration involving narrowing the channel, in order to keep the riverbed clear of silt; removal of the concrete bed and re-grading to a stable gradient was proposed, creating a two-stage channel on the right bank that compensates for the loss of floodwater capacity caused by the channel narrowing and creates valuable new floodplain habitat. The approach has been welcomed by the local community and is now at the detailed design stage.