The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) is to invest £3.8million of regeneration funding into Bury to transform 73 hectares of brownfield land into community woodland. The investment is being made through the NWDA and Forestry Commission programme Newlands, which has been billed as land regeneration for the 21st Century because of its focus on the economic and social benefits that can be delivered through environmental improvements.
The site to be regenerated is in the Prestwich area of the Borough and is known locally as Waterdale and Drinkwater Park. (Link here) The land, which makes up part of Red Rose Forest (Greater Manchester’s Community Forest), is owned by Bury Council and was partly improved in the 1990s. However this new phase of development work under Newlands, will include 13.7km of new foot and cycle paths as well as extensive habitat management and development. The feasibility of developing a technical mountain bike course on site is also being explored.
The site was the scene for the rather successful ‘Hit the North’ race last year…
The investment will fund 20 years of long-term management by the Forestry Commission on site and the Forestry Commission will manage the site for at least another 80 years thereafter from its own resources, to ensure the project’s initial benefits are sustained and the outcome is a sustainable one for the local community. The site had previously been home to bleach and dye works, chemical tip, various farming operations, excavation arisings and a smallpox hospital. It is currently classified as brownfield land by the NWDA.
The new community woodland in Bury will form part of a larger project to create a major community woodland across Salford, Manchester and Bury. This ambitious project is known as LIVIA (Lower Irwell Valley Improvement Area), and has already created 97 hectares of community woodland in the Agecroft area of Salford, including an outdoor classroom, climbing boulders and play area, new foot and cycle paths and considerable habitat enhancement. The investment announced for Bury will directly enhance this existing work (which was delivered through £4.7million of NWDA investment awarded in August 2004) as the two sites are connected. This takes the total number of hectares to be turned into economically viable community woodland as part of the LIVIA project to 170 hectares.