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Action plan aims to keep the water flowing in Hobson's Brook

Howard Slatter at Hobsons Conduit near his house off Addenbrookes Road, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Howard Slatter at Hobsons Conduit near his house off Addenbrookes Road, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

A 10-year plan has been created with the aim of ensuring the 400 year-old Hobson's Brook keeps flowing through Cambridge city centre.

The rare chalk stream starts in Nine Wells, south of Addenbrooke’s, and runs into the city, flowing into underground sections where it continues to feed fresh water to ponds in the grounds of Cambridge University Botanic Garden and several colleges. The corridor supports hundreds of species of flora and fauna and is thought of as a unique historical waterway.

The Hobson’s Brook Corridor 10 Year Vision, created by the Hobson’s Conduit Trust with Cambridge City Council, sets out plans for five key schemes.

Chair of the trust, Howard Slatter, said there is no record of large-scale maintenance being done to the brook for the past 100 years.

He said: “We’re delighted that the plan now has the council’s approval.

“In a few years’ time it’s not impossible that the brook could get to such a state that the water stops flowing. The water level has gone down and this has been particularly noticeable around the Botanic Garden, and gradually the water is getting slower.”

The plans will be aimed at vegetation management, silt management, historic structure management, flood risk management and improving the brook’s ecological status.

Mr Slatter said the group hoped to “reset” the system by removing decades of silt that has built up. This will secure the flow of water and improve its quality, although it could be a substantial and expensive job.

One of the next stages will be to start identifying where the money could come from, but the council hopes that the 10-year vision will help to secure the funds needed for the work.

The Hobson’s Conduit Trust is planning a mini bio blitz in the summer to allow people to discover more about the habitat around the brook. For more information visit facebook.com/hobsonsconduittrust.

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