The Bury Water Meadows Group (BWMG) comprises over 100 local residents of Bury St Edmunds with a strong interest in the town’s rivers, water meadows and associated green spaces. Formed three years ago, it has gradually built up a significant local role in trying to making a difference for both people and wildlife.
The Rivers Lark and Linnet, and the land around them, have been essential parts of Bury St Edmunds for many centuries. To retain the character of the town, and preserve its heritage, they should be considered as key elements of the town for future generations.
The BWMG is supported by the Bury Society, Bury’s best known civic group who for many years have provided a powerful voice on many aspects of the development of the town. The Chairman of the Bury Society is automatically a member of the committee of the Bury Water Meadows Group.
Bury continues to expand rapidly with 30% expansion of housing already having planning permission and the town will double in size within a lifetime if the same rate continues. Future residents will greatly value the open green space that the river and its surroundings provide which can be preserved if looked after and nurtured. Footfall at the Abbey Gardens through which the Lark flows, already stands at over 1 million p.a.
Key BWMG focus areas include:-
The Leg of Mutton is a tranquil and well-loved open space which runs along the River Lark between the Abbey Gardens and Bury Rugby Club. It is a critical unique piece of countryside between Bury town centre and still-expanding Moreton Hall area. It has been saved from immediate threat from development following a BWMG campaign at the 2014 Public Enquiry of the Local Plan 2015 onwards. Long-term preservation remains a goal. The land was originally given to the Abbey and town by the Saxon King Edmund I in 945 but is now in private ownership.
Regular River Lark clean-up volunteers World Rivers Day September 2014 was marked by launching a River Lark clean-up dubbed Operation River Lark. Andrew Hinchley, Chairman of the Bury Water Meadows Group (BWMG) says “We want to make our town proud of its river. We also want our river to brim with wildlife again so we are starting with a community-led clean-up operation, but I hope it will develop into regular work parties who will continue work on improving the river for wildlife, residents and visitors alike.”
River paths Spearheading efforts to extend the Lark Valley path into the middle of Bury St Edmunds. This 12 mile path stops a mile or so from the middle of Bury.
River awareness Development in 2015 of a new river walks booklet, distributed free to 1000 residents and workers in the town and now sold through the town’s bookshops and Tourist Points.