Londoners moving out to Wycombe for fresh air and nature amid the coronavirus pandemic is another reason the town should have its historic river brought back to the surface, it has been claimed.

Bringing the important chalk stream the River Wye back to the surface after it was buried under concrete in the town centre years ago has been a huge topic of discussion for years now.

But back in October last year, the then-Wycombe District Council shelved the £3 million plans - despite acknowledging there was widespread support for reopening the river - because of the cost.

The High Wycombe Society has always been a huge supporter of the idea and in a letter to the Bucks Free Press this week, member Heather Morley has reignited calls for the river to return to the town centre.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, scores of Londoners have reportedly been moving out to Bucks in search of fresh air and open spaces - and Mrs Morley says the attraction of the River Wye could encourage those new residents into the town centre.

She wrote: "Eight months ago, Buckinghamshire Council took over from Wycombe District Council. In that time, the world has changed due to Covid-19.

"Shops, gyms, office spaces and leisure venues have been wounded; many may close forever. There’s also been an unprecedented shift in city dwellers seeking to move to the shires in search of a garden, fresh air and more space at home in which to set up a home office.

"The latter might help fix the former, if we play our cards right.

"High Wycombe town centre has long been good for most shopping needs, more so since Eden arrived in 2008, and HWBIDCo has done a great job to dress and promote the town, especially in the last two years.

"Thanks to the council, there are welcome physical improvements currently being made to the road surface in the High Street.

"In last week’s edition of this paper, we were told that the historic Brunel Train Shed will be renovated at a cost of £4 million.

"We were also told more about the renovation of historic 2/3 High Street, and that the new Centre Square development is tipped for an architectural award.

"So why doesn’t any of this make a difference to people’s perception of the town?

"Despite these worthy projects, it’s hard to shift negative perceptions – and grab those London exiles to come and live and spend their money here - unless you do something really attention grabbing, and then shout loud from the treetops about it.

"I believe the answer lies beneath our feet.

"Let’s give those new London exiles what they want – fresh air, nature and an historic river that’s been consigned to a concrete tunnel for too long. We townsfolk want it too.

"The High Wycombe Society has long supported the deculverting of the river Wye. The confluence of the river and the roads facilitated trade, milling of paper and flour, furniture and other successful industries.

"In short, it’s the reason that the town exists at all."

In a direct plea to Buckinghamshire Council leader Martin Tett - who told the Bucks Free Press earlier this year he thought reopening the river in the town centre was a "great idea" - Mrs Morley said it could be his legacy.

She added: "Since the controversial burying of the river in 1967, no council leader has proved capable of bringing it back to the surface.

"No town with a waterway would think for one minute of hiding it underground these days; it would be too damaging to the fundamental appeal of the place which is the single biggest reason that people are drawn to a place to live and spend their money on local shops, restaurants and other businesses. We are all attracted to nature and beauty.

"Come on, Martin, step up: are you capable of making this happen, where all the other leaders have failed? Drive it through and create your legacy."