Address: Woodcroft Wildspace, 40 Orpington Road, N21 3PG
Telephone: 0208 819 1662
Email: enquiries@woodcroft.org.uk
Website: www.woodcroft.org.uk

Dear Friend of Woodcroft

On the 15th October we and the Council issued the following statement together with announcements in the Press.

“THE FUTURE OF WOODCROFT WILDSPACE – SECURED

  • On Wednesday October 12th Enfield Council agreed to retain this unique urban nature reserve and invest up to £100,000 to improve it for the whole community.
  • Part of the site will be sold for development with the remainder, which we expect to be about 3.5 of the 4.9 acres, will be retained for the wild space.
  • It is to be run by an LBE controlled Management Board which will include the current Woodcroft Wildspace and another environmental group.
  • To enable investment in the current site, the Council's Cabinet has agreed to sell part of the site and use up to £100,000 of the proceeds to improve facilities on the area to be retained while investing the rest of the money into other council services for the benefit of residents.

The area to be retained as the educational wild space will retain much of the existing wide biodiversity, key features of the apiary, orchard, sensory garden and wetland areas. Part of the arrangements will provide site security suitable to support schools and other educational participants.”

Update

Since then we have had further discussions with the Council regarding the detailed arrangements which includes a Licence, the Management Agreement and the area to be sold.

Area to be sold

At the time of the announcements the area to be sold was stated as being 1.3 acres in the northern section of Woodcroft, to which some of you suggested that the southern 1.3 acres may be a better option.

Those observations from various Friends have been taken on board by both Woodcroft Wildspace and LBE resulting in visits to site and further constructive dialogue. The Site Plan below shows the areas under discussion.

Option 1 was proposed by LBE on the basis that WW has done a lot of work in the areas B & C, so it seemed appropriate to propose the sell off of area A and build an access road along the side of the site, doubling as a drop off area for groups such as schools.

Option 2 has arisen since as a result of your (Friends) observations and both the Council and WW re-visiting the merits of the northern section for its wild life value. The Council also perceive the southern section to be more valuable, potentially realising more revenue from the sale both for the Council and Woodcroft.

The pros and cons of each Option are listed in the table below. In considering the points it is important to remember that the project brief is “To provide an educational Wildspace for the benefit of the whole of Enfield”. This means that the Wildspace must be readily accessible by reasonable numbers of people from all over the Borough to come and learn about the wildlife and their habitats. The site therefore has to accommodate people every bit as much as wildlife.

Neither option will please all of the people all of the time. Compromises have to be achieved as keeping the whole site as Wildspace is just not an available choice.

Option 1 – North

 

Option 2 – South

 

Pros

Cons

Pros

Cons

Greater existing biodiversity than the south

Requires access road to be built taking up more land if sold

Has assets that are very useful to Wildspace operation :-

 

Toilet drainage – enabling volunteers to spend the day at Woodcroft

 

Car parking – enabling Friends off street parking, group drop off, disabled access

Relocation of the toilets is possible at the expense of a septic tank (£3000 plus emptying) or other design and using part of the Wildspace area for new car parking

 

Relocation of car parking is also possible at the cost of the hard standing materials (potentially grass grids) and area allocated. The obvious area is close to the new entrance, which is wet – whereas the ideal area is the driest western side - which has access difficulties

Retains existing mature habitats for butterflies, stag beetles, plants, Friends trees

 

Retains the northern biodiversity and habitats created by Friends

We lose one of the existing ponds, which is incomplete

Retains the tennis court area as a “dry” outdoor classroom – supporting schools groups

 

Retains trees, plants and other features sponsored by Friends in the northern area

We lose part of the wettest part of the site currently planned to be a wetland area – hence the series of ponds

Retains the proposed Woodland Way side road area as wildspace

Places traffic serving the development along the back of Woodland Way houses

 

Relocation of some of the hedgerow and sensory garden is necessary - minor

 

 

 

Relocation of the Tool Store needed - minor

 

 

 

Fresh water will have to be imported for the time being

 

 

 

Power may have to be provided by a generator

 

 

 

 

In both options :-

  • The central part of the site, B, containing the apiary, orchard, ponds and community areas will be retained.
  • The whole of the retained Wildspace will be fenced off by LBE to form a secure area both to protect the wildlife and assets, such as the apiary and orchard, as well as to provide an environment to which schools can safely bring children.

Summary

We have considered the two options and initially favoured the Council's proposals to sell the northern section, Option 1 / area A, as the car park and toilet facilities in the south strongly favour the project ability to accommodate the community in realistic numbers. Not ideal as it destroys the strong biodiversity in the north but enables community use objectives to be more readily achieved.

However, having further considered the feasibility of relocating those assets and given further consideration to the value of the biodiversity in the north, some of which was created by Friends sponsorship of trees and hedgerows planted in 2005, Option 2 has significant merit to the Wildspace objectives. Continuity of Friends and community access through parking and facilities needs to be planned carefully but is achievable.

The prospect of “more” money being contributed to the Wildspace from the sale is likely to offset the costs of asset relocation.

Consequently we are proceeding to discuss Option 2, the sale of area C, instead of area A, with the Council.

Licence

The purpose of the Licence is to give us continuity of access to the Wildspace area whilst the details of the Management Agreement are worked out. The Licence is therefore seen as a short term measure.

Management Agreement

The structure of the Management Board remains as presented as three LBE, two Woodcroft and one from a 3 rd party group. No further details have been presented to us as yet.

As always, we welcome your observations and support. Please copy this letter to your friends and neighbours who do not have e-mail as we are only able to communicate via e-mail at this time.

Best regards

Bob Ladell & Gary Garber

committee@woodcroft.org.uk