Spring Update…

We’re now well underway in the development phase of our second round Landscape Partnership application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), so it’s about time for an update on what we’ve been up to!

The last few months have involved lots of meetings with partners and local groups – beginning to raise the profile of the area and getting more people involved in the scheme. We now have a Landscape Partnership Board and structure in place that will oversee and steer the Partnership and the delivery of the scheme. We have also appointed consultants to help us prepare for the delivery phase.

ECUS (www.ecusltd.co.uk) are environmental consultants that will be carrying out wetland feasibility studies at two sites within the Tame Valley Wetlands scheme area – Whitacre Heath SSSI and Kingsbury Water Park. This will involve assessing the land (looking at the ecology, topography, hydrology, soils, etc.) and producing the best possible design to enhance these areas for wetland wildlife and visitors.

Barker Langham consultants (www.barkerlangham.co.uk) have worked on a wide variety of HLF-funded projects and will be assisting ours by initially carrying  out community engagement alongside the Partnership. This is vital so that we make sure we develop a scheme that local people really want. They will help develop training and volunteering plans, as well as provide expert guidance on marketing and branding for the Tame Valley. An Access Audit and Plan will also be undertaken alongside Walk England – looking at the potential for a long-distance footpath, the ‘Tame Way’ and other circular / themed routes for people with a range of abilities and interests.

The Environment Agency are also leading on a river restoration study on behalf of the Partnership. This will involve habitat opportunity mapping workshops, where stakeholders and landowners with project ideas and detailed knowledge of the area will come together to discuss, prioritise and draw up potential natural heritage projects for inclusion in the delivery phase.

Over the next few months, we’ll be working closely as a Partnership and with our appointed consultants to engage with as many local people, organisations and groups as possible. This consultation will then help us to choose and develop the most suitable and beneficial projects for the area under the four different programmes (built and natural heritage, community participation, access and learning, and training). We then have the big task of drawing all this together within the proposed budget, finding additional funding and creating a Landscape Conservation Action Plan for the landscape area (basically a large but usable document, which will act as the scheme’s handbook over the next four years and beyond)!

The development phase will come to an end in December this year (2013), and if all goes to plan, the delivery phase will begin in autumn 2014 (until summer 2018).

Now’s the time to get involved and help shape the scheme and the fascinating landscape of the Tame Valley!

We’d love to hear from you if you live or work within or near the scheme area, if you have an expertise or an interest in one of our key aims (particularly built heritage or training), or if you own land within the area. Equally, if you work for a locally-based company or a charitable trust / grant-giving body that might be interested in sponsoring / funding a project within the scheme, then we’d love to hear from you too! Although HLF are our main funders, the scheme will only be able to go ahead with the generous support from other match-funders, Partnership organisations and local volunteers.

Thanks for visiting the website…watch this space for a further update in the summer and keep up-to-date with all the latest developments on Twitter!