Meades Water Gardens pre-regeneration was gloomy and unwelcoming
The major project for Impress the Chess in 2007-08 was the regeneration of Meades Water Gardens. Over £60,000 was raised to convert the silted up pond back to a natural chalk stream habitat. Essential tree work was conducted in March 2007 to increase light levels and improve tree health. The chalk stream was restored in spring 2008, and fences upgraded and bridges renovated to improve people’s access to and enjoyment of the site. Whilst only completed in July 2008, the site was already being re-colonised by wildlife over that summer, including sticklebacks and freshwater shrimp. The Gardens were officially re-opened on 11th July 2008.
The regeneration project underway - copyright Allen Beechey
The regeneration project was awarded the highly prestigious Environment and Culture Award in the SE England Market Towns Awards 2008. This award recognises innovation, and the regeneration of Meades Water Gardens will be used as best practice for projects in other market towns. The project won a 2009 Wild Trout Trust Conservation Award in acknowledgement of the valuable conservation work in the gardens for the benefit of river wildlife and the public. The project was also runner up in the 2008 Chilterns Conservation Board Awards.
The gardens post-regeneration are light and welcoming for both people and wildlife
Further works have taken place in 2009, continuing to make the site more accessible to a greater number of people. The footpaths have been upgraded to make them easier for people with limited mobility and a boardwalk has been installed along the narrowest section of footpath to ensure wheelchair access.
The regeneration project would not have been possible without the support of the following organisations:
Veolia Environmental Trust
Chilterns Chalk Streams Project
Chiltern District Council
Chilterns Conservation Board
Buckinghamshire County Council
Chesham Environmental Group
Rotary Club of Chesham