Newly completed Godmanchester Mill Steps project showcases its environmental enhancements

More than 30 partners gathered at the Godmanchester Mill Steps to celebrate the completion of the project.

More than 30 partners gathered at the Godmanchester Mill Steps to celebrate the completion of the project. - Credit: Matthew Power Photography

The unique Godmanchester Mill Steps Project has been completed and unveiled, showcasing a beautiful green space for the community to unwind and connect with nature.

More than 30 partners and stakeholders gathered at the site on June 9 to celebrate the completion of the project, which will benefit the community, local environment and local ecology in equal measure.

The project was realised thanks to a committed partnership and collaborative working across the community, led by Huntingdonshire District Council and delivered in partnership with Environment Agency, Highways England, Godmanchester Town Council, Godmanchester in Bloom and a local working group, the Godmanchester Community Liaison Group.

(From L to R) John Thackray, Neil Sloper, Assistant Director, Recovery at HDC and Cllr Richard Taplin, Godmanchester Mayor.

(From L-R) John Thackray, Chair, Godmanchester Community Liaison Group, Neil Sloper, Assistant Director, Recovery, Huntingdonshire District Council and Cllr Richard Taplin, Godmanchester Mayor. - Credit: Hunts Post

Councillor Sarah Conboy, Leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, said: “The Godmanchester Mill Steps project is a great example of collaborative working with partners coming together to deliver a community-led initiative that leaves a lasting legacy for local people.

“The project not only benefits the local community by creating a brand-new space for recreation and leisure, but it also offers environmental and ecological benefits for our local wildlife. We look forward to welcoming residents and visitors to explore the new surroundings and hope they enjoy all it has to offer.”

The former mill site was previously an unattractive scene of broken concrete and steel fencing, but the project has successfully transformed the area into a beautiful riverside green space.

The Godmanchester Mill Step's state of disrepair before the project's initiation back in May 27, 2021.

The Mill Step's state of disrepair before the project's initiation back in May 27, 2021. - Credit: Matthew Power Photography

A bird's eye view of the considerable changes and newly completed site at Godmanchester Mill Steps in June 2022.

A bird's eye view of the considerable changes and newly completed site at Godmanchester Mill Steps in June 2022. - Credit: Matthew Power Photography

The newly improved section of river frontage space, close to the former mill site, was part of a wider ecological project to improve fish and eel migration along the Great Ouse.

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Godmanchester holds a critical position on the Great Ouse, with the man-made weirs and sluices impacting the migration of all species of coarse fish, including eels. Installation of the new fish pass at Godmanchester has opened up 100km of the Ouse to the sea at King's Lynn.

Carefully designed to ensure access by all species, fish and eels of all sizes can now migrate freely upstream and downstream of Godmanchester.

A fish pass was installed to improve fish and eel migration along the Great Ouse at the Godmanchester Mill Steps site.

A fish pass was installed to improve fish and eel migration along the Great Ouse at the Godmanchester Mill Steps site. - Credit: Hunts Post

Environment Agency’s Fisheries Specialist, Kye Jerrom, who was closely involved in the fish pass development, said: “Godmanchester and its sluices, weirs and locks had been a barrier to fish for decades.

"With migration through the town now possible, fish and eels can access important habitats - essential for spawning, feeding and dealing with weather extremes."

The project’s wider improvement works focused on creating a location with naturalised landscaping, carefully selected planting and unique wildlife-friendly features.

New signage offers visitors the chance to understand how the fish pass works, learn about the history of the Mill Steps and discover more about the birds, insects, mammals and fish found within the area.

Bespoke benches were commissioned to showcase the different species found in the Great Ouse.

Bespoke benches were commissioned to showcase the different species found in the Great Ouse. - Credit: Hunts Post

Cllr Simone Taylor, Executive Councillor responsible for Leisure, Waste and Street Scene at Huntingdonshire District Council, said: "It is fantastic to see the fish and eel pass at Godmanchester Mill Steps completed. This much-needed project will not only help fish migration but will also have a positive impact on the wildlife which relies on our rivers."

National Highways/ A428/A14 Legacy Fund lead on the project, Joshua Smith, commented: “The completion of the fish pass is an excellent accomplishment that National Highways is pleased to have been able to support.

"The fish pass will deliver both environmental benefits and give the community of Godmanchester a brilliant new space. This project couldn’t have been delivered without the partners and members of the local communities, showing the importance of collaboration.”

A side-on perspective of the revitalised Godmanchester Mill Steps and the newly opened fish pass.

A side-on perspective of the revitalised Godmanchester Mill Steps and the newly opened fish pass. - Credit: Hunts Post

Godmanchester Town Council, one of the four major project partners, commented: “This project, which has been many years in the planning, provides a wonderful new facility for the town.

"While the ground cover is understandably sparse at present, the Town Council are confident that this will ‘naturalise’ over time. Meanwhile, it has removed another bar to spawning fish and eels migrating up the River Great Ouse and helps to make our town yet more environmentally friendly.

"The Town Council are very proud of what our citizens have achieved.”

Residents are now invited to come and explore this newly enhanced river frontage and enjoy the associated health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in the natural environment.