Barrier could turn the town’s focus around

TOURISM and regeneration opportunities brought about by the Boston Barrier could see the town ‘turned around’ to make the improved waterway the new focus of the town, according to agencies involved in the project.

New businesses, restaurants and even housing could be built along the neglected riverside in the town centre, as construction of the £45 million flood defence could see more use of the Witham for commercial and leisure use, it has also been said.

The project, due to start in 2016, would also see a link created to connect Boston to other parts of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.

At a meeting of Boston’s Central Neighbourhood Panel last Tuesday, representatives from the Environment Agency said the barrier would control the tides to allow boats to travel through the gates on the Witham for between six to eight hours a day during the summer months, compared to just two hours a day now.

Project manager Nic Rowlinson said: “During the summer the water will be held at the same level in the Low Witham at Grand Sluice. It means boats are not restricted and it will enable them to negotiate down through the town. They will have a leisurely few hours where they can go down the river, stop off in town and enjoy the facilities.”

Boston Borough Council is hoping that the regeneration of the river bank which may come through the change will encourage more businesses into the area, to make the most of the newly-created river area.

The authority’s head of planning Steve Lumb said at the meeting: “For so long Boston has turned its back on the river, and we hope that with the raised level of the river and opportunities for regeneration that we attract more business to the town and people will want to look on to it.”

According the Environment Agency, the barrier would decrease the chance of tidal flooding from one in 50 to one in 300.

Last week, Lincolnshire County Council deferred a final decision on contributing £11 million to the project for further information.