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5 hidden woods in Cambridge could be opened to the public

Nearly two hectares of hidden woodland in Cambridge could be opened up to create new small parks for..

By admin , in Cambridge , at February 22, 2018

Nearly two hectares of hidden woodland in Cambridge could be opened up to create new small parks for the public.

Five secret sites dotted across Chesterton and Cherry Hinton have been identified to improve residents' access to green space.

The city's Liberal Democrat councillors are proposing spending £30,000 to make the council-owned land suitable for local community groups and schools.

Councillors argue that new access to the woodland will ease pressure on existing local nature reserves and provide opportunities for environmental education measures.

The five areas include the triangle area near Bramblefield Nature Reserve in East Chesterton, a patch of woods behind houses on Walpole Road in Cherry Hinton and a strip of land next to Highfield Avenue in West Chesterton.

Other identified sites are the former bird sanctuary at Cherry Hinton Hall and The Spinney in Cherry Hinton.

Bramblefields Local Nature Reserve triangle area in East Chesterton (Coloured green) (Image: Liberal Democrats)

Lib Dem spokesperson on Open Spaces Cllr Ysanne Austin said: "These sites can provide a great opportunity to experience a woodland feel in an urban area. I am very keen on them as a resource for schools to offer a ‘Forest School’ approach to education.

Cambridge city councillor Ysanne Austin (left) and local resident Sonia Swindells in woodland off Highfield Avenue in West Chesterton (Image: Keith Jones)

A Forest School offers children 'hands-on learning experiences' in natural environments, with regular sessions run by qualified practitioners.

Walpole Road Woodland (Image: Liberal Democrats)

The Lib Dem plan is part of the party's proposed amendments to Cambridge City Council's budget planning for 2018/19.

It suggests opening up the 1.7 hectares of land by spending £20,000 on tree inspections and other remedial works and £10,000 on fencing, gating and surfacing.

Cherry Hinton Hall's former bird sanctuary (Image: Keith Jones)

The party says council officers believe ongoing costs could be met by charging small groups to use the wooded areas.

Cherry Hinton community campaigner John Oakes said: "Three of these woodlands are in Cherry Hinton, and we need to see that they play their part in helping more city children learn about the world around us by being properly developed for class visits, experiments and healthy outdoor enjoyment by all."

Sonia Swindells, a resident of Hurst Park Avenue, welcomed the prospect of a opened up woodland area behind Highfield Avenue.

"I think it would be very helpful to have limited access," she said. "It's beautiful. I've lived there for 20 years, I had no idea it's a wildlife haven – rough grasses, lovely big trees."

Highfield Woodland (Image: Liberal Democrats)

Sonia, who works for the Cambridge Nursery Federation, said children would benefit from visiting the wooded area.

"It's ideal for some sort of community use," she added. "As a local resident maybe more local groups could benefit. It can't be totally public, I don't think that would be practical.

"I don't believe it would cost that much to implement it. The community would benefit enormously from it for relatively little cost."

The Triangle area, near the Bramblefields Nature Reserve, East Chesterton (Image: Keith Jones)

Cllr Anna Smith, Cambridge City Council's executive councillor for streets and open spaces, said: "We know how much residents value not only our historic open spaces but also the woodlands in our parks and nature reserves and are always looking for more opportunities to enhance these spaces, resulting in community orchards, such as those in on Midsummer Common and Trumpington, community gardens, such as Nightingale Gardens and Empty Common and our continuing plans to extend public access to Cambridge Lakes."

The former bird sanctuary at Cherry Hinton Hall (Image: Liberal Democrats)

Cllr Smith said the council already had license agreements with two primary schools to use the reserves in Bramblefields and Cherry Hinton Hall for forest schooling.

The council's Children and Young People's Participation Service holiday scheme also uses the reserves.

"We have publicly stated our commitment to tree planting and community woodlands," Cllr Smith said.

The Spinney in Queen Edith's (Image: Liberal Democrats)

She added: "I am delighted that the Liberal Democrats are supportive of these initiatives and our commitments to open spaces.

"Rather than adding a budget bid, we believe we can continue these initiatives through making good use of existing funds, such as section 106 developer planning gains and working with local committees to consider use of Environmental Improvement Project funding."

Councillors are due to debate and vote on the budget measures at a meeting tonight (February 22).

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