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The Forestry Commission scooped double honours for its work in North West England in the Landscape Institute’s prestigious national awards competition.
Its transformation of Old Pale Farm at Delamere Forest, Cheshire, into a popular visitor attraction complete with an outdoor concert venue won the award for Landscape Designs Greater Than 5 Hectares (12.5 acres) in the annual Landscape Institute Awards.
The judges’ notes said Old Pale Community woodland is “an outstanding example of a large-scale landscape. The strong design concept responded well to the historic, ecological and geological sensitivities of the site. The panel particularly liked the manipulation of views through the woodland, guiding visitors to the summit and the surprise panorama of seven counties." They added that the project had “contributed to Delamere becoming a key destination in Cheshire”.
The Commission was also highly commended in the Strategic Landscape Planning category for Newlands, a £59 million scheme that is transforming some of the worst derelict and neglected land in North West England into attractive community woodlands. The ground-breaking partnership programme between the Forestry Commission, the North West Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and other partners has regenerated more than 540 hectares (1350 acres) into well used, durable community woodlands which are helping to build local economies and communities.
The judges said Newlands has helped to transform derelict sites into thriving community woodlands and “valuable green space that is recognised as an asset to local communities”.
One Newlands site, at Moston Vale in North Manchester, has just been cited in the Government’s Housing Strategy for England, published this week(Monday 21 November) as an example of what can be achieved by such a regeneration-led approach. At this “former landfill site, creation of the new community woodland park has led to regeneration of the surrounding area,” it says. “Derelict housing has been brought back into use and increased investment by residents has raised the quality of their homes. Anti-social behaviour and low-level crime … have been actively discouraged and prevented by intelligent landscaping and lighting.”
Pam Warhurst, Forestry Commission Chair, said:
“I’m delighted that these projects have received this national acclaim.
“Old Pale Community Woodland is a superb example of what can be done with imagination and sympathy for the local ecology, culture, history and geology to provide much-needed green spaces where people can refresh body and soul.
“And I believe Newlands has become the benchmark for community woodlands creation on ‘brownfield’ land sites. From the outset the Newlands partnership sought to target difficult social, economic and environmental sites. These new woodlands can bring communities back to life and create local jobs and investment.
“I’m also delighted that the efforts of Lindsey Houston and Roger Worthington, two of our landscape architects, have been recognised.”
The Environmental Partnership (TEP), an environmental consultancy based in Warrington, Cheshire, supported the Old Pale project with a feasibility study and concept planning.
More information about Newlands and Delamere Forest, including Old Pale Community Woodland, is available from www.newlandsproject.co.uk and www.forestry.gov.uk/delamere respectively. More information about the awards is available from www.landscapeinstitute.org.
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- Old Pale Community Woodland is a recent, 138ha (345-acre) addition to Delamere Forest, which in turn is part of the wider Mersey Community Forest.
- The judges’ notes also said: “The space was purchased by the Forestry Commission in 2000, with the expressed purpose of enhancing the local landscape and heritage and stimulating the local green economy. The brief included: designing and implementing a 5500-capacity outdoor concert venue; carrying out a comprehensive environmental assessment; and designing and implementing an open-space network that enhances the existing historical and geographical landscape. The Environmental Partnership’s landscape concept illustrated the potential for significant woodland planting, coupled with the creative use of open spaces. Old Pale is one of the biggest new plantings in the Mersey Forest.”
- Newlands was launched in 2003. It responds to local and regional economic and social needs, tackling some of the worst areas of neglected land and transforming them into thriving, durable, community woodlands. The Forestry Commission and NWDA worked with a wide partnership of other organisations to make a real difference to local economies, communities and environments, helping to make the Northwest an even more attractive place for investment and residence, with projects based around key gateways to the region as well as close to major cities.
- The judges’ notes said Newlands “demonstrates highly commendable foresight in driving social and economic regeneration through landscape investments. A robust, evidence-based methodology has enabled resources to be focused with great effect. It has helped to transform derelict sites into thriving community woodlands. Some 540ha of neglected land in the region have been turned into valuable green space, which is recognised as an asset to those local communities. Newlands continues to keep sustainability and longevity at its core, providing 20 years of investment (five of capital development funding and 15 of management and maintenance support). The project illustrates the importance of an intelligence-led approach to site selection and regeneration, with its core objectives of image improvements, strategic connections, social regeneration and future investment potential.”
- Newlands used the Public Benefit Recording System (PBRS), which is an aid to strategic decision-making and investment, and a tool for unlocking social, economic and environmental benefits in schemes and projects. www.pbrs.org.uk
- The Landscape Institute is the royal chartered body for landscape architects. It is a professional organisation and educational charity working to protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment for public benefit. Visit www.landscapeinstitute.org, or follow the institute on Twitter: @talklandscape.
- The Landscape Awards are presented to encourage and recognise outstanding examples of the work of the landscape profession. The awards ceremony was held on Thursday 17 November 2011.
- The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for protecting and expanding England’s forests and woodlands and increasing their value to society and the environment. See www.forestry.gov.uk/england for more information.
- Newlands - Penny Oliver, 01564 565800;
- Old Pale Community Woodland – Tim Oliver 01524 565806;
- General – Charlton Clark, 0131 314 6500.