“Make a commitment to raising our precious River Wye”, the High Wycombe Society has urged Wycombe District Council - more than two years after the idea was first discussed.

An ambitious project to reopen the important chalk stream through High Wycombe town centre has dominated the headlines for more than two years as councillors debated the pros and cons of the idea, but still no progress has been made.

The river flows for around 10 and a half miles from West Wycombe down to the River Thames in Bourne End, but much of the river in High Wycombe town centre is underground, with the likes of the Abbey Way flyover built over the top.

The High Wycombe Society – which has always supported the idea of bringing the River Wye back up to the surface – has now written an open letter to Wycombe District Council urging them to make a commitment to the project after years of talking about the plan.

Tony Hutton, from the society, says it is a “travesty” that the river in the river town is buried below


In the letter, he wrote: “Our river brought, or enabled, all the significant reasons why our town exists at all. And yet it is buried underground for the key town centre section between Westbourne Street and the police station. Every other village, town or city in this country that has a river, treasures it and capitalises on its appeal.“The opportunity to bring back the river was lost when Eden was built a decade ago. And we fear that the same thing will happen now, as all attention is fixed on the move to a unitary authority, with its bigger concerns, next spring.”

Mr Hutton said Wycombe District Council’s own Local Plan – which was adopted in August – mentions securing “further environmental enhancements to the River Wye and Hughenden stream corridors including opening them up” and making “significant improvements to the quality of the town centre by rerouting traffic and ‘opening’ up the River Wye”, adding: “You have adopted a plan that states categorically that you will open up the river. When?”

After seeing the letter, a spokesman for Wycombe District Council said they were not able to respond yet – because the issue will be discussed by cabinet at their October 21 meeting.

They said: “We’d like to thank the High Wycombe Society for the enthusiasm and support they’ve shown for the potential to deculvert and ‘open up’ the River Wye though High Wycombe.

“As this issue will be discussed by cabinet on Monday 21 October, which is a public meeting, we’re not able to respond directly to their comments and questions at this time.”