Feasibility Study

A full feasibility study is required for the restoration of navigation between Needham Lakes and Baylham Mill.

This feasibility study, currently estimated at around £25,000, will undertake a thorough investigation of the work necessary to restore navigation between Needham Lakes and Baylham Mill. The study will establish practicalities, benefits and costs. It will take into consideration the recommendations made by the Ecological Scoping Study.

The feasibility study will advise on:

·       The economic benefits

·       Environmental benefits

·       Community, social and educational benefits

·       Planning permissions and other requirements

·       Required lock restoration work

·       Necessary de-silting work

·       Water quality assessment

·       A flood-risk analysis

·       Recommendations for any additional studies or surveys, as required

·       Identify costs necessary to complete the work

·       Project management and planning

·       Timing and programme.

Restoring navigation is anticipated to encourage the following activities:
Canoeing, Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)
  • Working with British Canoeing, the Trust hopes to enhance the paddling prospects along the river. British Canoeing have around 75,000 members and they list the River Gipping as a river that has a ‘generally accepted right to paddle’ from Ipswich to Stowmarket and with ‘disputed rights’ between Stowmarket and Ratlesden.
  • Paddlers use the river during the winter months when water levels are high, and vegetation has died back but many stretches of the river are impassable in the summer, even for canoes. The Trust seeks to clear vegetation and improve the river depth – as advised by the Ecological Scoping Study – to allow these activities year-round.
Small Boats and Leisure Craft
  • The Trust is keen to establish the practicality of restoring the Navigation between Ipswich and Stowmarket sufficiently to allow use of the river by Small Boats, such as skiffs, dinghies, and small electric powered leisure craft. In addition to exploring the potential for navigation between Needham Lakes and Baylham Mill the feasibility study will explore activities that the Trust wish to promote and support more generally along the length of the river, including: 

Walking and Cycling.
  • The Trust seeks to improve the Gipping Valley River Path long-distance footpath, which follows the Navigation towpath from Stowmarket to Ipswich, for dog walkers, runners, ramblers and where appropriate for disabled users and cyclists. Improvements have been achieved in part, but many areas are overgrown, access is poor, many areas have steps, inclines and gradients are too steep, or bridges are too narrow.
  • The Trust aim to restore the towpath so that it is located adjacent to the river, as it was originally, as much as possible. Many parts of the current footpath have nettle and weed growth between the path and the river, which in the height of summer with six feet high nettles inhibits walkers views of the river and thus reducing the walking experience of a riverside walk. Keeping the path adjacent to the river will also dramatically reduce the growth of Himalayan Balsam and the known bank side erosion it causes. It has been established that constant cutting and mowing areas of Himalayan Balsam can completely eradicate the invasive plant after a two year period.
Miscellaneous Other Pursuits
  •  The improvement of footpaths, accessways, river depth and quality of the river to promote other pursuits, such as wild swimming (where it is safe to do so in terms of water standards and quality) and other leisure activities, such as wildlife photography, birdwatching, geocaching etc.