For many people the River Ryton is not immediately visible in the Town Centre, but the floods of last year were a reminder of the presence of a force of nature.
Over time, the course of the river has changed and it has become constrained within artificial banks, whilst also having been built over on Bridge Street and the Priory Centre. There is no bridge on Bridge Street and the only reminder of the presence of the river is on the ground with swirls picked out in the paving, hinting at the water below.
The River Ryton brings nature into the Town Centre and as such is an asset with a great potential to add economic value, whilst also providing new habitats. By providing flood storage upstream and removing obstructions downstream, the river can once again be a good neighbour and, through the restoration of natural processes in the channel, this attractive feature will provide the setting for the development of the future Town Centre.
Nature in the Town Centre
Like many towns Worksop has ‘turned its back’ to the river. In the future, opportunities should be taken to improve access and create buildings that overlook this asset with the opportunity for new public spaces, leisure and living, all enhanced by the presence of water.
The map of 1900 shows the course of the river through the town and the amount of space around the water, including green spaces and trees.
To the north of the River and once important for the town in terms of supporting industry is the Chesterfield Canal. Restored as a navigable waterway after falling into disrepair in the twentieth century, the canal has a wide range of characterful buildings alongside what is an important route for canal boats and also the tow path for walking and cycling. With connections to many places in Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire the Chesterfield Canal has a great potential for sustainable tourism, bringing people directly into the Town Centre.
Through the removal of unsympathetic buildings and opening up views and connections to the waterside the river and canal environment in the valley offers a great potential for leisure, employment and living. Many towns and cities have re-imagined their waterside places and their relationship to the aquatic environment.
In addition to the immediate waterside environment, there is an opportunity to green the whole of the valley, bringing nature into the urban environment through public art and improvements to the streetscape. Water features and play could also form part of the Town Centre experience, driving up footfall and retaining people for longer.
The waterside could become the focus for a new evening economy whilst also being a great place to spend time during the day. The Canch is already an attractive Town Centre park and greenspace and this would extend this offer. The river valley and Canalside could be the start of a much wider ‘blue and green environment’ that helps to manage flood risk, whilst also creating new habitats. This allied to possible improvements in terms of access and visibility to Sandhill Lake is the start of a new ‘green’ future for Worksop.
The national cycle route uses the Chesterfield Canal through Worksop and this route, alongside the proposed improved walking and cycling infrastructure in the town centre will support health and wellbeing through providing access to nature.
Timothy Crawshaw (MA MRTPI FRSA) is an International Planning and Development Consultant in the areas of urban design, planning, green infrastructure, energy efficiency and sustainable transport.
With experience in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, alongside an expanding UK practice, he has a specific interest in the role of the nature based approaches to addressing the climate emergency, alongside improving health and wellbeing outcomes and tackling inequality.
Timothy is an experienced lecturer, trainer and facilitator with a passion for community development, and he continues to champion the role of planning as a key part of the solution to the challenges of our times. Timothy is currently the Chair of the Tees Valley Nature Partnership and of the Historic Towns and Villages Forum and will be the Vice President of the Royal Town Planning Institute in 2021.
Last Updated on Friday, January 13, 2023