Almost three acres of land near Stowmarket has been bought by Mid Suffolk District Council to provide a green oasis for the town as part of the council’s biodiversity plans.
The council has invested £65k, funded from their climate change and biodiversity reserve, to acquire 2.71 acres at Wash Lane, in Great Finborough near Stowmarket.
The investment is a further step in the council’s joint Biodiversity Action Plan – protecting and strengthening the district’s wildlife and plant life populations.
As verdant wetland alongside the River Rat, with extensive tree cover including several with Tree Preservation Orders, it is already a welcome home to several wildlife species. Visitors include deer, willow warbler and siskin birds, the common toad and a wide variety of insects. Suffolk Wildlife Trust will also be carrying out a full habitat survey and assessment on site.
The land is situated off a popular route for local walks and rambles in the outskirts of the town, which joins Combs Lane and the main Finborough Road, crossing the River Rat. As it is not suitable for development, it is an ideal space for local nature to quietly thrive alongside a busy town. As such, there are currently no plans to make the site publicly accessible, but instead allow it to be a green oasis for local flora and fauna.
Cllr Jessica Fleming, cabinet member for environment at Mid Suffolk District Council, said:
“I am simply delighted that we have been able to acquire this piece of wild, wet, overgrown land alongside the River Rat – helping to safeguard an important wildlife corridor, which is home to a wide variety of species.
“This acquisition fits well with our ambitions for countering biodiversity loss and improving the environment for both people and nature. Our vision for Stowmarket is to create a thriving town that people are proud to call home, and where economic growth and regeneration are balanced by quality of life and open space.
“The purchase of this land means it will remain a welcome home for wildlife in the town for generations to come.”
Significant work now needs to be undertaken to fully realise the land’s biodiversity potential, to enhance the habitat and increase wildlife. It is expected to take five years to complete, to ensure the least disruption and maximum protection possible for existing natural wildlife and plant life cycles.
The council’s public realm team will be engaging with the Stowmarket Eco Future group, adjacent residents and the two parish councils over coming months, to look in further detail at how they may be able to best work together on the project.
Cllr John Matthissen, member of the Stowmarket Eco Future group, who is also ward member for Onehouse, said:
“I very much welcome this move to secure an important link in the chain of biodiversity from the source of the River Rattlesden to where it meets the River Gipping. I would particularly like to thank local constituents who have highlighted this opportunity and also councillor Jessica Fleming who has been supportive of the project from its inception. In addition I am grateful to the officers who have worked to obtain a Tree Preservation Order and ultimately complete purchase of the land.
“An example of the opportunities ownership will provide is an extension of the clearance of invasive Himalayan Balsam. This has begun at the Museum of East Anglian Life and the adjacent Danecroft land, much of it carried out by volunteers, including the Stowmarket Eco Future group.”
This work further complements other projects being carried out by the council, including biodiversity mapping, a tree canopy survey, and ongoing consultation with town and parish councils to establish suitable new wildflower areas across the district.