Celebrity conservationist will open Welney’s wildlife meadow this weekend
PUBLISHED: 11:50 16 August 2016 | UPDATED: 11:50 16 August 2016
Leading conservationist Tony Juniper will be the celebrity guest when he opens the area’s newest wildlife haven – Sandgate Meadow Park in Welney.
The haven is still under threat from council bulldozers but the community is battling on by holding a grand opening on Saturday August 20 from noon to 4pm at the park in Chestnut Avenue.
The green space has had grant funding from the national lottery and heritage lottery - but Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council are still threatening to bulldoze it.
Paul Fox, chairman of RUG, a local community group and charity that has overseen the work, said: “This may be a David and Goliath struggle, but we are determined to save our park”.
“We are delighted to have created this fantastic new green space for Welney, which is also a community orchard, wildlife haven and a much needed play area and park for youngsters. “The RUG team of volunteers have put thousands of hours of unpaid volunteer time into this project to make it a reality.
“We have enjoyed the support of local residents - over 50 have joined RUG - the parish council and the Ouse Washes Partnership.
“Unfortunately Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council continue to threaten the future of this valuable new community green space.
“After the council’s plan to build 16 dwellings on our park was thrown out on the grounds of unsustainability and following more than 100 objections, RUG received a letter on June 17 from council Chief Executive Ray Harding stating “the planning application has been withdrawn at the present time.
“However this is a site of some value, with the potential for housing development, and hence it would not be correct to assume that a fresh application may be submitted in future years.
“In response we at RUG have called on the council to withdraw their threat to our park and instead support an application by us to have Sandgate Meadow Park designated as a Village Green, safeguarding its future.”
The park has a meadow walk, children’s play area, sensory raised bed garden with wheelchair access, heritage orchard featuring old fen varieties, 60 native, ornamental and orchard trees, more than 200m of native mixed hedging.
On the open day there will be a BBQ, tea and afternoon cake marquee, willow weaving with willow artist Jane Frost, face painting for children and guided tours of Sandgate Meadow Park from the RUG team.