Delivery and management

Creating a Country Park does not happen overnight, but it must endure for ever.

To turn land that has had intensive growing of crops on it for decades, into natural grassland does not happen quickly. In phased zones, the land will need to be stripped, cultivated, sown and managed to bring forward the different grass types and habitats desired.

It will take more time for nature to fully return, and we will be working with partners in the Land Trust and Wildlife Trust to help this process.

The next steps

Delivery and management

The Country Park is set out in the spatial principles of Alconbury Weald, as one of four strategic open areas of the new community. It is also set down as a pledge to provide a permanent and protected green wedge between the Stukeleys and Alconbury Weald, that can never be built on.

Timing

It must be delivered by the time Alconbury Weald has 1,400 families living there.

Protection

A triple lock will be in place between Urban&Civic, Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) and the Stukeleys Parish Council to ensure the Park’s future including:

Planning: the S106 legal agreement for the development stipulates the Country Park is open space, protected in perpetuity for the benefit of local people.

Management and uses: restricted covenants will be drawn up between Urban&Civic, HDC, the Stukeleys and other future local councils, that restrict use to those defined for a Country Park and prohibit any residential development within the boundary.

Ownership: Urban&Civic are exploring options with the Parish Council for handing over the Park to a third party Charity agreed by Urban&Civic, The Parish Council and HDC, who would own or manage it, to agreed standards and objectives as a Country Park in perpetuity.

Status: the area has been designed to achieve Country Park status, and registration will be sought as soon as the key facilities and areas are developed. Its status as a formal Country Park requires maintenance and conditions of use for the benefit of local people.

Long term management

The best way of ensuring the success of the Country Park is in getting the initial designs right, to include sustainable uses and attractive activities. But ensuring that it has a sustainable funding model going forward is essential. Urban&Civic have been exploring options with the local partners of appointing a partner like The Wildlife Trust or Land Trust, to manage the Park in the long term.

A likely model is for the land to be handed over as part of a formal legal agreement with all parties, and a substantial dowry, that enables long term investment in the Park, alongside regular income from the activities, events and parking on site.

We are working with the Parks Alliance and local partners in the area’s Local Nature Partnership – Natural Cambridgeshire – to ensure many of the issues local authorities face managing today’s Country Parks are addressed as part of the Park’s robust governance structure.

Essential criteria

Country Park must be:

  • Free to enter
  • Inclusive and accessible
  • Signposted and easy to navigate
  • At least 10 hectares in size
  • Less than 10 miles from a residential area
  • Informed by local community
  • Predominantly natural or semi-natural landscape
  • Toilets on site/two minutes walk
  • Visibly staffed, e.g. litter collection
  • Defined by clear boundary and marked on a map
  • Available for public or educational events.

Desireable criteria

Country Park should ideally have:

  • a visitor centre & catering
  • play facilities
  • bike and horse trails
  • art and sculpture
  • permanent staff present during the day
  • detailed information for visitors eg, leaflets
  • brown and white tourist directional signs and shown on an OS map
  • outside activities
  • achieved or working towards Green Flag Award status
  • green transport policy
  • facilities for less able visitors planned for management of biodiversity, geodiversity and preservation of the historical environment
  • opportunities for community involvement
  • promoted health benefits of walking
  • outreach programme and a programme of events.
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