Wildlife and play park officially opened in Welney as campaigners pledge to fight on to save Sandgate Meadow for future generations by having it designated as a village green

PUBLISHED: 10:30 22 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:30 22 August 2016

Tony Juniper with Paul Fox chairman of RUG

Tony Juniper with Paul Fox chairman of RUG

Copyright: Barry Giddings

Conservationist Tony Juniper officially opened Welney’s new wildlife haven watched by around 80 villagers.

New green area is opened in Welney New green area is opened in Welney

Saturday’s event at Sandgate Meadow Park also saw a host of fun activities including willow weaving with expert Jane Frost.

Opening the area Tony Juniper spoke about the importance of having access to green space and nature on people’s mental wellbeing.

Paul Fox, chairman of Welney Green Spaces Residents Users Group (RUG), said the day was the culmination of a lot of hardwork by villagers who helped raise £6,000 in 18 months towards the project.

The scheme received national lottery and heritage lottery funding and includes a newly planted orchard.

Mr Fox explained the wildlife and play area is located on a piece of land adjacent to the Freebridge housing estate, which was left unused.

The site belongs to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council and campaigners have successfully seen off one application to build homes on the land.

Now they are pushing to have the area designated as a village green to protect it from development for future generations.

Mr Fox said: “The RUG team of volunteers have put thousands of hours of unpaid volunteer time into this project to make it a reality.

“Unfortunately King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council continue to threaten the future of this valuable new community green space.

“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.”

However, Mr Fox said the threat of bulldozers moving in remains and now the fight is on to ensure the land stays for the benefit of villagers and does not get taken for housing in the future.

He added: “This may be a David and Goliath struggle, but we are determined to save our park”.

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.

The open day included a BBQ, tea and afternoon cake marquee and guided tours of Sandgate Meadow Park from the RUG team.

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