RENEWED calls to see a historic river brought back to the surface in Wycombe town centre have prompted top politicians to say they too share that ambition, but that funding is key.

Buckinghamshire Council leader Cllr Martin Tett and cabinet member for town centre regeneration Cllr Steve Bowles backed reopening the River Wye during a recent debate – but added there are first cost and logistical factors to be considered.

The issue was prompted by Cllr Ron Gaffney during a council meeting, who asked if the budget included funding to reopen the important chalk stream.

READ MORE: 'Step up': Fresh plea to reopen river through High Wycombe town centre

Bringing the river 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.

In October 2019, the then-Wycombe District Council shelved the £3 million plans – despite acknowledging there was widespread support for reopening the river – because of the cost.

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PICTURED: How the River Wye would look if it was reopened through High Wycombe

“I’m totally onboard with that as a future aspiration, once we can source funding,” said Cllr Bowles.

“That’s a long-term ambition of mine, I would like to see the River Wye reopened. I think it would be a really good aspect for High Wycombe.”

READ MORE: ‘Restore sparkling River Wye in town’ - readers' letters

Cllr Brian Pearce said: “Cllr Hugh McCarthy has spent a great deal of time…carrying out work on this…and the upshot was it would be very advantageous to have this in High Wycombe.

“The money spent, I believe it was a ratio of seven to one, so for every £1 million spent we would get a return of £7 million.”

“I think the idea of opening up the River Wye would be fantastic,” said Cllr Tett. “I think it would be an absolute jewel for High Wycombe as a town.”

He added, however, that there are “significant logistical issues” relating to the flyover forming part of the roof of the Eden Shopping Centre.

Cllr Tett also said that while the project would present a “very substantial cost”, he added: “It’s something I would certainly support as a medium-term objective.

“It’s on my list but it’s not something we can deliver in the very short term.”

The High Wycombe Society has been a huge supporter of the idea, and in November 2020 it reignited calls for the river’s return to the town centre.

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