Sutton Park stewardship work gets underway

By on 15/02/2010 in News

Work gets underway this week on a scheme worth almost £1million that will further boost Sutton Park's status as one of the UK's most significant parks.

Last October Birmingham City Council scooped a prized Higher Level Stewardship grant from DEFRA worth £954,240 over the next ten years plus Forestry Commission Woodland Grants and additional funding for scheduled ancient monument status from English Heritage.

Work gets underway on Wednesday (Feb 17) and the Higher Level Stewardship grant will fund:

  • Heathland restoration works.
  • Countryside restoration in other sensitive areas of the park.
  • Proposals for woodland management.
  • Improved visitor experience.
  • Scientific and archaeological research.

To secure the grant park bosses had to produce:

  • A new 50-year community vision for the park.
  • A new heritage management agreement with English Heritage in line with the new Heritage Act.
  • A Farm Environment Plan agreed by Natural England.
  • A new site management plan drafted by external experts and appraised by government agencies.

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Birmingham City Council's Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, said: “This is a terrific boost for one of our major parks and helps fund our vision for the future of the park.

“We're now looking to improve the wilder areas of the park in keeping with its status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve.

“The park attracts over two million visitors each year and will now been seen as a site of national best practice.
“The initial phase will involve quite significant work on the northern edge of the park but that is an essential condition of the grant to return the area to pristine heathland.”

Speaking when the grant was awarded, Chairman of the Sutton Park Advisory Committee, Cllr David Pears, added: “I think this is super news and it means we can do more work to improve the park - restoring it to how it used to be.

“In addition to heathland restoration and woodland management, we aim to improve the signage and add more public displays. This could also open the door to future funding opportunities for a very special park.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Attracting over two million visitors a year, Sutton Park is one of the largest urban parks in Europe and the largest outside a capital city.

Covering over 970 hectares (2,400 acres), the site is included in English Heritage’s list of historic parks and gardens and most of the site is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

In 1997, English Nature designated Sutton Park a National Nature Reserve and it is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) aims to deliver significant environmental benefits in high priority situations and areas.

It involves more complex environmental management, so land managers will need advice and support.

HLS is usually combined with ELS or OELS options, but unlike these, entry into the scheme is discretionary. A wide range of management options are offered, which are targeted to support key features of the different areas of the English countryside.

HLS agreements are for ten years. Payments are sent out every six months and relate to the options that have been chosen. HLS includes payments for capital items such as hedgerow restoration.

For further information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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