Villagers hope to take on land near their homes

Massingham land

Part of the land at Great Massingham which villagers would like to manage as a community woodland - Credit: Chris Bishop

Villagers hope to take over responsibility for an area of land near their homes.

The site - around an acre in size, behind the village doctors - has been a haven for wildlife, including bats, birds and toads.

It is owned by the parish council, which recently cleared the site, stripping it of brambles and fly-tipped waste but also, say locals, removing some of the natural habitats.

People living on nearby Charles Dewar Close, off Station Road, want to take on the management of the land, to develop it as a shared space for the community.

The parish council has not yet revealed whether the site has been cleared for any purpose. There is currently no planning application to develop it.

David Lowe, who lives on Charles Dewar Close, submitted proposals to improve the site to the council in August.

They included "sensitive initial thinning out".

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Mr Lowe's plans went on: "The main objective is to improve and manage the area for the benefit of local flora and fauna as a community project, with an emphasis on educating children on the benefits and necessities of natural environments and small scale woodland management.

Claire Moogan

Claire Moogan, one of the villagers who would like to see the land at Great Massingham improved and managed by the community - Credit: Chris Bishop

"Species of trees that are already established include, ash, crab apple, field maple, blackthorn and a mature hazel hedge along the west boundary. The area is also abundant with wildflowers along the grass edges, including cornflower, scarlet pimpernel chamomile and most noticeably poppies. This attracts a variety if invertebrates such as grasshoppers, bumble bees, honeybees and a variety of butterflies and moths."

The proposals were initially rejected by the council, before the site was completely cleared. Waste has been piled up in one corner, awaiting collection.

Mr Lowe's wife Claire Moogan said: "The parish council did discuss it but the idea was rejected. They said they didn't want anyone to have any hold over it."

But there was widespread support from villagers on social media for improving the site. 

Mrs Moogan said after meeting a couple of members of the parish council, they had been asked to re-submit their plans.

The council declined to comment. But minutes from its most recent meeting say: "Original intentions were to clear the area making it manageable and sustainable but there had been a lack of communication with the residents, and this was a serious oversight.

"The following separate residents meeting had enabled a community dialogue for going forward and proposals will be presented at the next parish council meeting."