Reopening the river through High Wycombe could improve an area of the town branded a “nuisance” by councillors if the project goes ahead.

In June last year, the Bucks Free Press revealed that Wycombe District Council were considering a "radical" £2 million plan to reopen the River Wye through the town centre.

In the latest update on the project, councillors on the improvement and review commission (I&RC) say the project could help improve Frogmoor in the town centre.

Frogmoor has hit the headlines in recent months amid concerns first raised by Cllr Arif Hussain that businesses and shoppers are “suffering badly” because of anti-social behaviour, drug taking and drinking.

The comments prompted Wycombe District Council to blast Thames Valley Police for not “stepping up” to help them tackle bad behaviour.

Cllr Ron Gaffney, chairman of the I&RC, said: “There is something under Frogmoor – the Hughenden Stream – which should also come into it and would help improve Frogmoor and I am sure that everyone is for that.

“If you had a nice stream going down the middle of Frogmoor, I'm sure that would clear up a lot of the problems we have got there. It’s a tremendous project.”

Cllr Hugh McCarthy – who is at the helm of the River Wye task and finish group, which was set up to explore the possibility of reopening the town’s rivers – said the project is turning out to be a “bigger task than we first thought”, but added that the project can technically be done.

He said: “We have looked at this in depth and concluded that technically and practically, we could return the river from Westbourne Street to Arch Way roundabout. That would be in a three-metre wide or so landscaped channel and would be at surface level.

“The economic aspect is yet to be proven and there is much more to be done, but we need to start thinking about the future of this town in ten years’ time when the shops are perhaps not as vibrant and people don’t necessarily come to the town to shop anymore.”

According to Cllr McCarthy, culverts that allow the River Wye to flow under roads through the town centre, will shortly need “significant” engineering works, which could tie in with the project.

Councillors took a trip to Sheffield to see the effects of reopening the River Don through the city centre and said their project has had “dramatic” results.

Cllr McCarthy added: “Their rivers were sewers – thirty years ago it was just black everywhere. The transformation by opening up their rivers has been quite dramatic.

“The result was that it doubled economic activity. People wanted to live in the city. There was an enormous benefit environmentally and economically.”