Dumping ground set to become garden wonderland for Stortford community
Land used as a dumping ground by Bishop's Stortford Town Council is set to be transformed into a wildlife conservation area for the community.
The plot at Jenkins Lane, next to the Hallingbury Road (East) Allotments, is currently used for processing green waste cut from other sites. Ultimately the authority has earmarked the site for future burial space, but it is not expected to be needed in the next 10 years.
Wild Glade, a not for profit community interest company, will be working with Writtle University College students to establish a garden with growing space, play area, sensory trail, wildflower meadows and planting for wildlife. They are also planning a temporary building, suitable for use as a classroom for 30 people.
It would also be used as an organic and healthy eating hospitality area, used to host events and generate income. The building would be constructed from straw bales and designed t be completely biodegradable and recyclable at the end of its expected 15-year lifespan.
Wild Glade anticipates that the building would be constructed with help from VIY – an organisation that combines volunteering and DIY, enabling young people aged 14 to 24 to develop vocational skills and gain City and Guilds qualifications while working on community buildings.
Zara Skidmore, an educator with over 15 years’ experience, is behind the scheme.
She attended the last meeting of the town’s finance and general purposes committee, where members discussed the terms of the lease to be offered to Wild Glade.
A report told councillors: “At the heart of our plans is a desire to create an inclusive community. We aim to act as a platform for many local businesses and whole encourage the involvement of independent artists and craftsmen to help us deliver a varied programme of seasonal events.
“These will include regular workshops and dedicated activity which reflect our values whilst providing opportunities for growth. Each of these events will be designed to meet the general needs of the local community as well as a dedicated programme that will directly target our more vulnerable citizens.”
In January she is planning community engagement events and a competition for Writtle students to come up with a design.
The site would be cleared in February with work on the straw bale building set to start in March, along with planting. In April, volunteers will be trained and from May, the site would open to the public.
Some councillors were wary of making a five-year commitment to the project, although ultimately, they agreed on the deal with the option for both parties to walk away in the first year.
Cllr Tim Page said: “We have a very valuable piece of land there.” He urged the committee to ensure the council could break the deal each year if required. However, Cllr Ralph Gilbert said if the land, just over the border in Essex, was to be earmarked for housing development by Uttlesford District Council, it would not be for at least a decade.
The mayor, Cllr Colin Woodward, is a beekeeper and fellow apiarists use part of the plot.
He said: “This is very exciting. It will turn the land into something more beautiful than a dumping ground for fly-tippers.”
Cllr Norma Symonds said: “I think it’s a fantastic idea… I think people would be appalled if we turned it down.”