27. Cowslip Meadow Community Engagement

Themes: Community engagement and participation; Promoting appropriate and sympathetic land management

Objectives:

  • Improve local knowledge and understanding of the river and the issues facing it
  • Increase public access to and involvement in the river
  • Promote the river as a community and educational resource
  • Improve existing wildlife corridors
  • Control or eradicate invasive non-native species
  • Increase the amount and quality of habitat
  • Educate the general public and local businesses about its role in water quality and quantity improvements

Project description

Cowslip Meadow is a nationally important wetland, a local County Wildlife Site and being considered as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England.

 It is located close to the A6 in north Luton, is surrounded by residential housing and backs on to Icknield High School. The site has been in Environmental Stewardship (HLS) since 2008 to support appropriate management.

The Riddy Brook rises from springs on the meadow and this old pasture is a mosaic of ponds and pools. There are also drier mounds and chalky banks with clumps of hawthorn and osier scattered along the stream. The site is also known as The Riddy, which gave its name to Riddy Lane.

Due to the sites importance for biodiversity and amenity a number of projects have been run here and are planned by the Catchment Partnership. Works undertaken to date include:

  • Two years of community engagement activity funded by the Thames Water Community Investment Fund including – volunteer activity, a new interpretation board and consultation with local residents around potential improvement works and habitat enrichment via on site event and online survey. Volunteer activity – habitat management from staff members from local company Galliford Try and Luton & Dunstable Conservation work party to hedge planting, coppicing, shrub management and litter picking. Also two hedge laying training courses were run. During this work the project engaged with 36 adults 84 children providing 53 person days of activity.
  • Groundwork led a community consultation as a part of the Big Count event in October 2017 to share information regarding proposed future plans with the local community and residents living in the vicinity of Cowslip Meadow and to encourage feedback and comments from these individuals alongside other local interest groups. Results showed overwhelming support for the value site and improvement of the site including access and habitat improvements. Concerns were raised about invasive species and dogs on the site damaging habitats and owners leaving dog mess.
  • Green Skills training course – lift the description from project 36 which has been updated although could do with some numbers re participants if poss. And link it to the survey results above that requested improvements. And add that a new bridge across a drainage channel was also created and funded by Thames Water. (that is one of the photos but not sure it is worth adding as the adding? Or say that it is nearing completion at this point?

Current areas of work being developed:

  • Luton Borough Council has been looking into solutions to address the impacts of drainage from surrounding areas (urban runoff including highway)
  • Luton Borough Council is liaising with Natural England about obtaining national status of SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) to further protect the site in the future
  • The partnership is keen to continue volunteer activity on the site including engagement of the local residents and school
  • There were no signs of water voles when the site was last surveyed in 2018 and the partnership is keen to undertake survey work along the whole of the Luton stretch of the river to assess numbers and identify whether any site improvements may be identified that may improve habitat conditions.
Project lead: Luton Borough Council
Project partners: Luton Borough Council, Groundwork East
Funding source: various, as above
Contact for more information: Trevor Tween
Volunteers learning how to lay a hedge

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting.