A Wickford beauty spot is to be extended by 26 acres thanks to an agreement by Basildon Council to manage land previously leased to Beauchamps School as open community space.
At a meeting of the Neighbourhoods and Public Spaces Committee on Wednesday November 4 councillors agreed for the land between Wickford Memorial Park and Giddings Copse to become an extension of Wickford Memorial Park.
Chairman of the Neighbourhoods and Public Spaces Committee, Councillor David Harrison, said: “I’m delighted that our Wickford residents will get an extra 26 acres of parkland to enjoy, by bringing Beauchamps’ playing field into the Memorial Park. We will also be able to incorporate the proposed new path alongside the River Crouch from Runwell to Battlesbridge into the scheme.
“This will provide great opportunities for the community to be physically active, connect with others, and just enjoy the outdoors – positively contributing to people’s mental health and wellbeing.
“Improving our natural environment in this way is brilliant news for our residents of Wickford and the wider borough.”
Beauchamps School no longer required use of the site, providing Basildon Council with an exciting opportunity to develop and enhance the biodiversity of the area by creating a corridor of biodiversity from Wickford Memorial Park through to Giddings Copse.
The site was not previously accessible to the public due to its leased status and designated usage. Initial concepts for the site include the creation of a number of wetland ponds, planting of a mixture of woodland and wildflower meadows and the planting of a community orchard, all of which will provide a variety of habitats, the make-up of which will be established through environmental surveys.
These ideas will be further developed and defined through engagement with a number of parties, including the Forestry Commission, the Woodland Trust, local expertise, Friends Groups and park users.
The site will be managed and maintained by the council’s parks and countryside service and will also provide important opportunities for the voluntary sector and the local community to work with and support the council to improve the natural environment and positively contribute to the physical and mental health and wellbeing of those involved.
The council will now be working to hone the plans, alongside partners and the community, before seeking the necessary investment to fulfil this important project and ensure that the open space becomes an important public amenity for all to enjoy.