COMMUNITY has triumphed over cash as unused land in Tiddington will become a nature reserve.
Members of Stratford District Council’s Cabinet met on Monday (March 6) to decide what to do with an unused parcel of land in Knights Lane.
They were presented with two options – to sell the land to a developer for £133,000 or to give it over to the residents of Tiddington for a nature reserve. Councillors opted for the second option.
The move comes after a decision on the uused land was deferred by Cabinet six weeks ago to allow residents more time to go away and work on their plans.
Of particular concern for councillors was what financial incentive the nature reserve offered.
The land – a former gravel pit – was gifted to SDC in 1957 and was subject to a restrictive covenant requiring that the land is only used as a play area.
But since the land was acquired an alternative, more suitable play area, has been created and the land does not appear to have ever been used.
The land is enclosed by housing on all sides and is effectively ‘land locked’. Pedestrian access is available but there is not sufficient width to allow vehicle access onto the land without acquiring additional land interests.
SDC has recently been offered £133,000 from a developer keen to build houses on the site.
However, during the process of transferring the site, a counter-offer was received from a group of Tiddington residents, supported by Coun Kate Rolfe. They proposed taking over the site and maintaining it as a nature reserve.
This proposal was accompanied by a petition signed by 270 residents and an application for the site to be registered as an Asset of Community Value.
At the Cabinet meeting in January, Coun Rolfe said the gravel pit was a pit and any housing developer would find it impossible to build houses on it.
She added that over 30 residents had helped put forward a proposal for the nature reserve.
Since the meeting the Tiddington residents have officially formed a community group – ‘Wild Tiddington’ – with an elected committee.
The committee is chaired by resident Louisa Smith.
Ms Smith explained the committee wanted to assist in other biodiverse areas in Tiddington, in addition to the gravel pit, and much looked forward to working with SDC to make this project a success.
Members of the Cabinet voted unanimously to allow Wild Tiddington to pursue the nature reserve project.
SDC will retain ownership of the site and the Tiddington residents will assist with the management of the greenspace.
The council will use the area for biodiversity improvement and, through this, will generate biodiversity net gain credits from the site which will be sold to generate funding.
A 30 year management plan will also be drawn up in partnership with the Tiddington residents.