Saffron Walden’s first nature reserve is planned for the town

PUBLISHED: 12:30 20 August 2020

Paul Gadd, leader of Saffron Walden Town Council, was one of the councillors supporting the plan. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Paul Gadd, leader of Saffron Walden Town Council, was one of the councillors supporting the plan. Picture: CONTRIBUTED


A new nature reserve - the first for Saffron Walden - is planned for the town.

Limefield Pit, behind St Marys View, is currently owned by Essex Wildlife Trust and will be taken on via a tenancy by The Organic Countryside CiC, now known as Walden Countryside.

Speaking at Saffron Walden Town Council’s Planning and Road Traffic Committee, David Corke of the group said they were looking for the council’s encouragement and support at this early stage of their plan.

Their idea is to clear back the brambles and remove material that was dumped there 20 years ago, and create a site where the public can visit when a volunteer is on duty.

Mr Corke said the chalk grassland flora on the site, previously part of Little Walden quarry, had been almost destroyed.

The chalk face and a tiny area of the chalk grassland survives.

Years ago the area was fenced in but it was not really maintained. The meeting heard the group would apply for grants for funding.

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Mr Corke said: “What we want to do is create a situation with volunteers so that on certain days each week and ideally at the weekend we have a volunteer on site and at that time it would be open to the public. The rest of the time it would be closed.”

He said that removing the dumped material would likely be a big task.

The land next to the chalk face is owned by Uttlesford District Council and the neighbouring field to the north has received planning permission for a housing development.

Councillor Paul Gadd said: “I’m very supportive.”

Cllr Dave McLellan said: “I’m fully supportive of the idea. I think it’s a good plan. But I did have one of the immediate neighbours of St Marys View call me to express concern about it being open to the public.”

Cllr McLellan said it would be a good idea to consult with the neighbours, so they knew the site would only be open when a volunteer is there.

Cllr Patrick Hawke-Smith said: “I’m personally all in favour of what David is proposing.”

Cllr Richard Porch suggested Essex Wildlife might be asked to do some work before the group’s tenancy started.

Councillors who did not have any linked interests in nature or the site then voted on the matter and gave their unanimous in-principle support to the proposals.

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