AN ANCIENT Coventry watercourse which used to power a medieval fulling mill on the edge of the city centre is flowing again for the first time in more than a century, thanks to a major naturalisation project.
The recreation of Radford Brook is part of a £6million land reclamation project by Complex Development Projects (CDP) and funded by West Midlands Combined Authority.
It will see a new 700m Linear Park from Belgrade Plaza to Naul’s Mill Park as the centrepiece for a major new housing development.
Around 400metres of underground pipework has been installed to bring the culverted brook under two roads and re-emerge in the former depot and gas works site where thousands of new trees and plants will create a green corridor for wildlife.
The former mill pond in Naul’s Mill Park, converted into a model boating lake in Edwardian times, has also been naturalised to create a new wildlife haven and improve the water quality in the heart of the city.
The foundations have been laid for two new feature bridges over the brook, which powered the 12th century Naul’s Mill. It was built for the cleaning of cloth, a source of wealth in medieval times.
The Linear Park is expected to be completed and opened to the public in October and Naul’s Mill Park will host the Beneath the Trees event on Saturday, August 28, which is part of UK City of Culture.
Katie Burn, CDP’s senior development executive, said Radford Brook would be the focal point of a proposed new residential district for the city.
She said: “The Linear Park will be transformational for this part of the city, providing a direct green link from the city centre under the raised ring road and out to the suburbs.
“This new water feature is already bringing wildlife back to a site that had been a contaminated gasworks for 200 years.
“Coventry’s gasworks was founded in 1821 and turned what must have been an idyllic setting of the stone mill and brook into a fenced off industrial wasteland.
“We wanted to turn the clock back to bring a wildlife corridor right into the city centre for people to enjoy.”
Work on the large pond – with natural planting around the edge – has been completed and will grow in the coming months to provide a habitat for newts, fish and wetland birds.
The work is being carried out by Coventry-based landscape contractors Idverde.
Coun Patricia Hetherton, the council’s Cabinet Member for City Services, said: “The transformation is already astounding and I can’t wait to see the project completed with the new bridges in place and the plants fully grown.
“We have seen a great public response to the water features installed as part of the public realm improvements in the Upper Precinct and this will have similar appeal with a piece of countryside recreated right on the edge of the city centre.”