Plan for new park that will cover land ‘half the size of Exeter’

Plan for new park that will cover land ‘half the size of Exeter’

Consultation on a masterplan for a new regional valley park that will cover land ‘half the size of Exeter’ has been agreed.

Cllr Geoff Jung, East Devon District Council Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country & Environment, added: “I’m delighted that this exciting plan is available for a full public consultation. The coronavirus pandemic has been a stark reminder of the importance of spending time outdoors to our health and wellbeing.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com 

The Clyst Valley Regional Park is set to consists of a number of greenspaces will be linked by greenways and will extend from Clyst St George to the south to Killerton House to the north, and to the Cranbrook Country Park to the east.

A masterplan has been produced to set out a long-term, broad guide to how the Regional Park could develop and to set out the big picture and the general direction of travel and opportunity.

It articulates the potential benefits of delivering projects and in so doing, it will be used to support funding bids, attract investors, and to pull in partners and resources to work up and deliver projects.

The front cover of the Clyst Valley Regional Park masterplan

The front cover of the Clyst Valley Regional Park masterplan

The masterplan says: “The Clyst Valley Regional Park is crucial for the health and wellbeing of a growing population, and to restore the natural capital on which we all depend. The purpose of this masterplan has been to set out a long-term, broad guide to how the Regional Park could develop. It is a first draft and is not perfect. A five year action plan for delivery will then follow and progress will be monitored and reported annually to EDDC.”

Cllr Geoff Jung, East Devon District Council Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country & Environment, added: “I’m delighted that this exciting plan is available for a full public consultation. The coronavirus pandemic has been a stark reminder of the importance of spending time outdoors to our health and wellbeing.

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“Devon is well-known for its countryside with national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, estuaries and beautiful coastline. But there is greater pressure than ever on these stunning locations.

“With a growing population, it is necessary to provide much-needed homes, jobs and infrastructure. As more people explore the countryside, it is imperative that we protect and enhance our green spaces because getting active outdoors keeps us healthy and happy, plus the countryside can help us address climate change by storing carbon and water, as we work towards becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

“The Clyst Valley Regional Park will play a valuable role in providing new open spaces near major growth areas. The idea for a Regional Park was included in the East Devon District Council Local Plan in 2016 and will ensure that the new town of Cranbrook and developments close to Exeter are provided with large scale, high quality greenspace.

The Clyst Valley Regional Park area

The Clyst Valley Regional Park area

“The Clyst Valley Regional Park will enhance the land surrounding the River Clyst and its tributaries, with linked green corridors enabling people to visit the outdoors via cycleways and footpaths. The Park will improve biodiversity, for example through natural woodland regeneration, urban tree planting, creating nature reserves, and helping to reduce flooding by careful natural, waterflow management.

“The creation of the Regional Park will help reduce the pressure on more environmentally sensitive locations and help to conserve heritage assets, protecting our cultural identity. It will be managed to the highest standard.”

He added that pieces of this jigsaw are coming together as East Devon District Council is working with landowners and partners to deliver a Country Park at Cranbrook and at Pin Brook, the first sections of the Clyst Valley Trail are being built, 3,500 broadleaved trees and shrubs have been planted through the ‘Great trees in the Clyst Valley’ initiative.

Tuesday’s Strategic Planning Committee saw councillors unanimously agree the draft Clyst Valley Regional Park Masterplan for public consultation.

They heard the masterplan will be a material consideration in assessing planning applications within the Regional Park and it should be used by land owners, developers and their agents as additional guidance on how, and where, green infrastructure can be delivered

The view from an orchard in Whimple

The view from an orchard in Whimple

MAJOR PROJECTS

Ashclyst Forest

The National Trust provides access to 272 hectares of the forest along a choice of colourcoded trails ranging from 2.4 km to 11.3 km, and including a 3.5 km butterfly trail suitable for wheelchairs and buggies. The forest is an important site for pearl-bordered and small pearlbordered fritillary butterflies, twelve species of bats, dormice, and breeding birds. It is probably of national importance.

The National Trust plans to make the forest a more-attractive and enjoyable destination for walking, cycling and horse-riding. The intention is to create a visitor hub at Ashclyst Farm and an outdoor field studies centre at Caddihoe, the latter in collaboration with the Scout Association.

Bishops Court

A hugely important piece of the jigsaw. Ownership is split across three private land holdings but all have a desire to protect and enhance the natural and built heritage.

Over the next five years, parkland tree planting should continue alongside protection and maintenance of the existing old trees, one of which (an English oak) is estimated to be 700 years old.

A new permissive path and picnic area in Alder Croft woodland could create a circular trail from Sowton village without needing to use Bishops Court Lane, which is a ‘rat run’ during rush hour. A strategy needs to be defined, and funding secured, to restore, and if possible, provide public access to the wonderful tithe barn and stables.

Clyst Valley Trail

The Clyst Valley Trail will be a commuting and recreational trail for walkers, cyclists, mobility scooters and where feasible, horse riders. It will link the Exe Estuary trail with the historic Killerton House and Park, via an existing multi-use trail from Broadclyst. There is future potential to reach Ashclyst Forest and the Exe Valley Way

It will provide a direct, safe, green route to employment centres at Science Park, Sky Park, and close access to Exeter Business Park & Sowton Industrial Estate. On the way, it passes through historic parkland at Poltimore, forming the backbone of the new Clyst Valley Regional Park.

Hayes Farm

It provides a green buffer between the housing at Mosshayne and the Lidl warehouse as without this the landscape of the Park would be severed at this point, and the site is the only remaining recreational green space of useable size for the community of Clyst Honiton.

Planning obligations secured the enhancement of wetland habitats within this project area, including reed bed and additional wet woodland. There is potential to site a bird hide overlooking this small reserve, and a remote camera in the ‘bat house’, designed solely for the protection of a population of bats, could be an excellent educational resource.

Lower Clyst

This is a very significant area of freshwater grazing marsh and fen. It is at risk from sea level rise and the river banks downstream of Winslade Barton will not be defendable in the long term. Sea level rise will lead to the loss of internationally important mud and sand flats on the Exe Estuary, and this loss will have to be compensated by inter-tidal habitat creation elsewhere.

The route of the proposed Clyst Valley Trail from Darts Farm follows the ridge to the east of the river. This will be a multi-use trail, but a return footpath following the toe of the ridge back to Dart’s Farm offers great opportunities for screened wildlife viewing of the river and marsh, whilst also providing a beautiful circular walk for all abilities.

Mosshayne

Mosshayne Farm is situated just north of Blackhorse/Clyst Honiton and together with the Hayes Farm site it is an important piece of green infrastructure between the new Lidl distribution centre to the east and land allocated for housing to the west.

The owner is keen to explore options for willow biomass or habitat creation (meanders, ponds, fen, wet woodland, marshy grassland) in conjunction with 1.7 km of river restoration and enhanced public access.

Pin Brook

The Brook is an important wildlife corridor flowing out of Pinhoe and into the River Clyst and is being delivered in connection with Linden Homes. The 7 ha Minerva Country Park has now been delivered by Barratt David Wilson Homes and, subject to contract, will be managed by EDDC Countryside Team. A further 3 ha immediately adjacent to it has been secured as public greenspace.

Poltimore House & Park

Poltimore House Trust and their dedicated volunteers continue to make excellent progress towards the conservation of the house and gardens. Paths in the arboretum have been improved and there are plans for a disability ‘sensory garden’ route. Full restoration of the house is acknowledged as a multi-million pound project.

A planning obligation has secured the restoration of 34 hectares of this parkland in connection with housing at Old Park Farm, which includes the restoration of the old carriageway and establishment of a public bridleway along it, extensive tree planting and linear permissive public access for 30 years.

A further 13 ha of this land is part of the 1840’s parkland extension. The land should be protected via extension of the Regional Park policy boundary, with new public access and replacement tree planting delivered as part of a holistic restoration scheme.

Winslade Park

Winslade Park is a late-18th century mansion built for an East India merchant. The sale particulars of 1905 noted the ‘pleasure grounds of great natural beauty’.

They slope away from the mansion in a southerly direction, and contain a large number of specimen trees. The terrace walk (early-19th century) along Grindle Brook, an ornamental lake formed by the widening of the stream, and parts of the kitchen garden survive.

It is hoped that a mixed use redevelopment of the site could secure the historic park and garden for public access along with the restoration of the sweeping carriageway, possibly as part of the Clyst Valley Trail.

Aylesbeare Stream & Holbrook

The Aylesbeare Stream and Holbrook are important biodiversity corridors connecting extensive habitat on the heathlands at Aylesbeare with extensive habitat in the Lower Clyst valley. They also connect with hotspots of biodiversity at Rockbeare (parkland), Beautiport Farm (broadleaved woodland and grasslands), and Farringdon (parkland and ancient woodland).

Grindle Brook

The Grindle Brook is characterised by smaller floodplain meadows and patches of riverine woodland. There are also some traditional orchards. It is an important biodiversity corridor. A public footpath passes through the site too. No other land is in an agreement and in many places intensive arable cultivation takes place right up to the river.

The reversion of arable to pasture and new woodland via natural regeneration would considerably enhance biodiversity, landscape, water quality and provide greater natural flood storage.

Treasbeare

Land is safeguarded as SANGS and is contiguous with the existing Cranbrook County Park and also with the proposed greenspace at Rockbeare Court. The potential therefore exists to create a large, linked publically accessible greenspace with natural habitats, and enhanced landscape, as a buffer to Rockbeare village.

Cranbrook to Exeter

As Cranbrook expands eastwards and new housing comes forward at Tithebarn and Mosshayne, this will provide an alternative off-road commuting and recreational route . The route begins at Station Road and proceeds around the back of the Amazon/Lidl warehouse. A new bridge crossing of the River Clyst estimated at £1 million is required.

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