A six-hectare woodland created with support from the local community was officially opened in May in the presence of residents, parish councillors, National Forest representatives and project partners.
The launch of the Penny Wakefield Community Woodland to the east of Ellistown village in Leicestershire celebrates the culmination of a two-year project that has seen developers, engineers, National Forest staff, environmental stakeholders and the local community working in partnership. The aim of the project has been to deliver an exceptional community asset that meets planning and engineering requirements for what has been a critical development and employment project.
The project faced many challenges, not least finding ways to integrate the objectives of replacing the trees and hedgerows lost to the development, creating new National Forest woodland and providing a structure to address drainage requirements for the new 1.4million sq. ft. warehouse buildings adjacent to the site. At the same time, the project needed to provide screening and a long-term sustainable woodland resource that would enhance the Ellistown community.
Planning and Design
Environmental planning and forestry consultants Lockhart Garratt were appointed in 2016 by developers Mountpark to design the scheme and liaise with stakeholders to meet the required objectives. The completed project, which has been delivered by Whiting Landscape Ltd, does this very effectively and will provide a valuable and sustainable area for the community.
John Lockhart of Lockhart Garratt said, “This has been a challenging and exciting project to work on. Through open dialogue we developed a framework of trust and understanding between all the parties involved which helped to find solutions and deliver the exceptional project that we are able to see and enjoy today.
As part of the project 12,000 trees and shrubs have been planted with 800m of all ability access pathways installed, linking the woodland to the local community and the wider public access network. In addition, the scheme includes several interpretation signs, numerous wildlife hibernacula, bat and bird boxes, two owl boxes, a community orchard and some wonderful wildlife sculptures and benches fashioned using timber from trees that had to be felled on site.”
Philip Metcalfe of The National Forest commented; “This project represents precisely the sort of scheme that we are trying to achieve in the Forest; a place where woodland can deliver habitat, access and landscape benefits to the communities on its doorstep. We have been delighted to work in partnership with Lockhart Garratt and Mountpark on this project and will be looking to promote this scheme as an example of best practice going forward.”
Managing a woodland project
The local community, and in particular local councillor Keith Merrie and the Parish Council, have been involved throughout, supporting and challenging the project team to help shape and guide the project. The late Penny Wakefield was one of the councillors involved during the early discussions and it was felt that naming the woodland after her would be a fitting tribute and conclusion to the project. Penny is now celebrated on the site with a memorial plaque.
Wal Groves of developers Mountpark added, “I have been amazed by what we have been able to deliver. It is a real pleasure to celebrate such a significant development so close to an existing community. Through dialogue and cooperation we have a scheme that looks wonderful, with water and attractive contours, and will be of value to the local community long into the future.”
To conclude the event, local residents planted a small grove of bird cherry (Prunus padus) to provide a show of spring blossom to greet people as they enter the woodland from the village.
Photographer Darren Cresswell, copyright National Forest Company.
Contact our Forestry Consultants
For further information on this project please contact Robin Truslove on 01536 408840.