Queenswood turns over a new leaf

Queenswood HerefordshireAfter a period of uncertainty it appears that the future of Queenswood country park and Bodenham lake has been secured.

Despite the usual lack of transparency and heel-dragging by Herefordshire Council a 99 year lease looks set to be signed for both sites.

The new management team is a partnership between Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and environmental group New Leaf.

Both Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and New Leaf have undertaken a period of public consultation in order to put forward their vision for the future of these vital publicly-owned sites.

We spoke to Kate Gathercole from New Leaf about the future make up of the management teams for Queenswood and Bodenham lake.

“We plan to set up site management groups for both sites, made up of local people who represent the various interests for that specific site,” Kate told the Heckler.

“These groups will be making the decisions about what happens at each of the sites. Day-to-day decisions will broadly be guided by the underlying vision for the sites.

“Our aspirations on education are to develop the unique natural settings of Queenswood and Bodenham lake as beautiful centres of deep and experiential learning. We hope to build an education and visitors centre at Queenswood, which would offer a range of revolving exhibitions and a growing variety of short courses and other educational initiatives.”

As well as education New Leaf plans to promote sustainable energy techniques with a purpose built environmental centre at Queenswood.

“We plan to apply for finance to retrofit the existing buildings to the highest standards of efficiency and to ensure that any new buildings commissioned are built as demonstrations of best practice energy efficiency, renewable energy generation and water use,” Kate said.

And what will New Leaf do about parking charges?

“This is a really difficult one. We understand that the sites will need an income of around £100,000 per annum to be viable. Sadly, reviewing the most recent council figures for costs and income at Queenswood, it feels as though car parking charges may be unavoidable. However this is in no way set in stone.

“We are still looking at the possibility of a members’ scheme and would prefer this to the introduction of car parking charges.”

With Herefordshire Council desperate to get rid of its financial responsibilities, it’s good to see that these two sites have been handed to organisations with vision and imagination.

We look forward to New Leaf and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s management. Good luck to both.

Luther Blissett

Photo: Catherine Joll

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