New country park 'once in a generation' chance, says Natural England
PUBLISHED: 12:27 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:27 30 January 2020
Broadland District Council
A mooted new country park on the outskirts of Norwich offers a "once in a generation chance", according to the government natural environment advisors.
Broadland District Council recently paid £700,000 to buy almost 140 acres of land between Felthorpe and Horsford, with the aim of turning it into a new country park.
Council leaders hope the new park, at Houghen Plantation, will encourage people in and around the city to enjoy nature closer to home, rather than heading to other parts of the county.
The plantation is next to acres of common land and the council believes it can create a park comparable to the popular Whitlingham Country Park.
And the proposal has the backing of Natural England, which advise the government on issues around the natural environment.
Natural England said: "The land would form part of a sizeable and attractive natural greenspace for residents to use and enjoy as an alternative to visiting designated European sites, and so contribute to reducing some of the recreational impacts on protected sites.
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"However, this site is about more than simply fulfilling the Council's statutory obligations with regard to these designated sites.
"It is possibly a once in a generation chance to use and develop the natural resources, that are already established on this site, and create a space that supports people and wildlife together.
"If managed correctly, this land could provide multiple benefits in addition to mitigating for recreational disturbance. This site could help develop and foster local communities and develop a sense of place, support wellbeing, be used as an educational resource for all ages and deliver biodiversity net gain."
The council has £1m to spend on it, thanks to money generated by business rates, the community infrastructure levy and contributions from developers.
A formal car park will need to be created - which would need planning permission - and charges from that would help provide revenue for the free park.
Shaun Vincent, leader of Broadland District Council, said: "It's the perfect location to expand our green infrastructure, but it's so much more than that.
"It's about people having access to the countryside.