Melbourne Park weir

Breaking down barriers to breathe new life into urban rivers

We have just announced plans to remove a redundant concrete weir and breathe new life into the stretch of the river Petteril that runs through Melbourne Park, Carlisle.

As part of the award-winning Cumbria River Restoration Strategy (CRRS), we have been working along the Petteril for some time now with partnership leaders, the Environment Agency and Natural England, successfully opening up stretches of the river so that fish can swim more freely and create much-needed wildlife habitat.

In 2023, we plan to move further downstream and rejuvenate an urban stretch of the river.

Why Melbourne Park?

Having natural, wild spaces on the doorstep is essential to escape the stresses of city life. In Carlisle, Melbourne Park is one such space – a popular place to walk, play, cycle and get closer to nature.

However, in the middle of this park lies a river in desperate need of a helping hand.

As a result of historic human intervention over hundreds of years, the river Petteril cannot support the wide variety of wildlife that would be expected to be seen here.

The river flows through the park in an unnaturally straight line with few places where wildlife can survive and thrive and has been left with a large, abandoned concrete barrier that no longer serves a practical purpose.

The concrete weir and its ineffective fish pass make it difficult for fish such as Atlantic salmon to return to their spawning grounds upstream to breed and ensure the survival of this important species. Flooding around the structure has resulted in significant erosion of the riverbank, making it unstable.

Melbourne Park weir

Melbourne Park weir and fish pass (no longer covered)

Working with nature to improve the river Petteril

This summer, working in partnership with the Environment Agency, we plan to remove this obsolete concrete weir and replace it with a series of riffles and pools along 300m of river. These features will replace the weir’s steep slope with a more natural one and create valuable wildlife habitat.

This will attract more wildlife, allow the river to thrive, and be a more inviting place to visit.

The riffles and pools have been carefully designed so that they don’t affect river levels or contribute to/exacerbate any issues that exist around general flood risk or the transport of gravels downstream.


Find out more about the project at a community drop-in event

When the weather gets better, we will hold a series of community drop-in events in the park. Residents and park users will be able to talk to us about the planned work and join in litter picks and balsam bashes that will complement the river restoration and all help to make Melbourne Park and the river a cleaner, healthier place for everyone to enjoy.

Look out for details of community events locally and on our website in the spring.


Lev Dahl, River Restoration Manager at Eden Rivers Trust said:

Introducing riffles and pools will provide much needed habitat for a wide variety of invertebrates and fish – and food for a variety of other species such as dippers, heron and otter. Riffles also increase the amount of oxygen in the water, making this stretch of river healthier and more able support life. Removing the weir will make it easier for fish and insects to move freely up- and down-stream and survive and thrive here. This stretch of river will be a more welcoming, natural space for people to enjoy being beside.

Olly Southgate, Environment Agency River Restoration Project Manager, said:

We look forward to the completion of this project in Melbourne Park and the benefits it will bring to local wildlife.

Delivering river restoration can provide a wide range of benefits, creating better natural habitats for wildlife, and reducing flood risk through innovative nature-based solutions.  

The Cumbria River Restoration Programme is one of the biggest portfolios of river restoration projects in the UK and is delivered by a successful, long-running partnership between the Environment Agency, Cumbria’s three Rivers Trusts, Natural England, National Trust, RSPB and Community Driven Groups. Working together we are improving habitat and allowing rivers to function more naturally.

Environment Agency logo


Eden Rivers Kingfisher Icon
Eden Rivers Kingfisher Icon