For the benefit of people, nature and the planet.
Kennet Valley Wetland Reserve will be an area of 16 hectares (40 acres) of restored and redeveloped ancient water meadow, situated next to the River Kennet, a renowned chalk stream, and a short stroll from the historic market town of Hungerford.
Purchased, protected and cared for by the charity the Town & Manor of Hungerford, this ambitious wetland regeneration project will be for the immediate benefit of the local area and visitors, with a lasting legacy benefitting the health and wellbeing of locals, visitors and the wider environment for generations to come.
Share your thoughts
To make the Kennet Valley Wetland Reserve the best space it can be, we need to know what’s important to the people we hope will use it. People like you. Please share your thoughts in our short survey, it really does take just a few minutes and will help us to make it a great place for everyone to enjoy.
If you would like to know more about our wetland project, please sign up at the bottom of the page.
Create a wetland area rich in biodiversity that will help to restore both plant and wildlife, improve the health and wellbeing of visitors and the local community, inform and educate, and contribute to the improved health of the planet.
Donate to the Wetland Reserve
We’re currently fundraising via The Good Exchange which generously fund-matches, effectively doubling the money given. This will help with the cost of the surveys required for planning approval to be granted, which include ecology, archaeology and biodiversity surveys, as well as for the development of the planned Education and Information Centre.
If you’d like to donate, and we really appreciate any and all support you can give.
Why wetlands are important
- 40% of the world’s plants and animals depend on wetlands.
- Wetlands store almost 1/3 of the world’s carbon, despite taking up only 3% of the world’s surface.
- 200 new species are discovered in freshwater wetlands every year.
Photography by Darren Prestoe
Emergency Recovery Plan
In 2020, a global team of scientists, including those from the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust and the World Wide Fund for Nature, developed an Emergency Recovery Plan for freshwater biodiversity.
The aim of the plan is to protect and restore freshwater habitats, tackling the threats that have led to an 84% collapse in freshwater biodiversity and the degradation of 90% of the world’s wetlands. It also provides clear plans for what can be done to help with the recovery plan.
How the Kennet Valley
Wetland Reserve will help
The restoration of wetland and development of the Kennet Valley Wetland Reserve will bring significant benefits to people, the immediate area and further afield.
Photography by Darren Prestoe
Creation of wetland
The improved wetland habitats, biodiversity and local nature recovery, and the associated carbon capture and retention, have far-reaching benefits for the environment, while the provision of the reserve, as a public amenity space, will offer physical health and mental wellbeing benefits to all its visitors.
Currently, the land has been derelict since the 1970s, being of poor agricultural quality, and is now heavily overgrown with limited structural or botanical diversity. Detailed and very favourable surveys indicate it has great potential for regeneration as a wetland nature reserve, which will become of regional importance.
Vital flood relief
A key part of the project will be the reconnection of the River Kennet to ancient flood plains, lost over the passage of time.
Allowing the River Kennet to overflow into the wetlands will help to alleviate the risk of flooding further downstream, a significant benefit for towns such as Newbury and Thatcham and those beyond.
An Education & Information Centre
The Education and Information Centre will share information on wetland and river ecology, conservation and climate change. Sitting on stilts above the flood level, the proposed building will be constructed using eco-friendly, sustainably sourced and low-carbon materials.
The design includes external platforms giving views across the reserve and ground-level access for visitors to enjoy pond-dipping and the sights, sounds and smells of nature close up.
Accessible for all
Both physical and visual access to the wetland will be key. There will be two types of footpaths: an informal circular path and a step-free, access-for-all path that includes boardwalks. Road and pedestrian access will be created that connects the site to Charnham Park road.
The Reserve will be open to all during daylight hours throughout the year and entry will be free.
Photography by Darren Prestoe
We anticipate that it will take approximately two years to complete the reserve, once planning permission has been granted.
Following a favourable initial response from West Berkshire Council to a pre-planning application in July 2022, we are now working to provide the required reports and surveys needed to support a full planning application, and hope to make this application in early Summer 2023. From this, we hope to be able to start work on the development of the site in 2024.
The Town and Manor of Hungerford isn’t new to the role of landowner and guardian. Here’s a quick potted history:
John O’Gaunt (son of Edward III and father of the future king, Henry IV) grants the residents of Hungerford certain rights and privileges that include fishing the rivers Kennet and Dun.
A charter from James I passes the title of the Manor of Hungerford to ‘the townsmen of Hungerford’.
the Manor of Hungerford is conveyed again, this time to be held ‘in trust for the inhabitants’. A Constable and 13 local men, the first Trustees, take on the responsibility of managing and maintaining the Town and Manor.
The Town and Manor of Hungerford formally becomes a registered charity.
16 hectares of historic wetland meadow, on the north-western edge of Hungerford immediately adjacent to the River Kennet, are purchased.
The Trustees of the Town and Manor of Hungerford are responsible for the governance and management of 170 hectares (420 acres), which includes the rivers Kennet and Dun, commons and marshes, 44% of which is designated as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).
Find out more about our experienced board of Trustees on our About Us page
We’re looking forward to making the Kennet Valley Wetland Reserve a reality, and to restoring a wealth of natural diversity to this small part of the country, for the benefit of all.
If you’d like to receive updates on the progress of the project, please contact us below.