Authorities want 100,000 people to visit each year
Public consultation will take place on plans to turn a closed golf course into a countryside park.
Exeter City Council’s executive on Tuesday night unanimously backed exploring further a joint vision from the Devon Wildlife Trust and Exeter City Council to convert the land into a countryside ‘park’ which represents a tranquil, wildlife rich, greenspace, and aim for 100,000 people to visit the park each year.
The plans outline how the former Northbrook Approach Golf Course on Topsham could be transformed into a tree studded park, enriched with wildflowers, newly planted trees, a community orchard, together with new wetlands, ponds and pools to enhance biodiversity.
Consultation on the joint proposal with local residents and community groups on the vision for the area as a ‘Wild Arboretum’ is now set to take place.
Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting, Peter Burgess – Director of Conservation & Development for the Devon Wildlife Trust, explained that they would be reaching out to the community about what the future of Northbrook could be, but that they aimed for it to be a much more accessible and welcoming space and for it to be a haven for wildlife.
He added: “Northbrook is one of the most wildlife rich areas of the city, but because it has been used as a golf course, people have thought it has been off limits for access quiet recreation.”
He said that they aimed to bolster its connection with the Ludwell Valley Park to the north by putting in a Pelican crossing between the two parks, and that the grassland would be made more wildlife rich, new trees would be planted and it would be given a parkland feel, although as remaining as wild as possible.
Cllr Phil Bialyk, leader of the council, said that the plans were exactly what the council set out to do when they reversed the initial decision to sell off the land. He added: “I cannot think of a better organisation for doing this,” while Cllr David Harvey added that the project demonstrates the value of the relationship between the council and the Devon Wildlife Trust.
The proposal document outlines how Exeter City Council and Devon Wildlife Trust will work in partnership to develop a vision for the Northbrook site, secure support and engender pride from a wide range of stakeholders and attract potential sources of new funding from commercial sponsorship, grant making bodies, to charitable trusts, and that there is overwhelming support for the area to be developed for quiet recreation in a wildlife rich setting.
The vision for the former Northbrook Approach site includes:
‘Wild arboretum’ – the tree studded parkland would be enriched with wildflowers and newly planted standard trees
Community orchard – orchard trees provide fruit for local communities to harvest.
Wilding the Northbrook – new wetlands, ponds and pools would provide space for people to access the water’s edge and observe the range of wildlife supported
Linking greenspaces – DWT would manage the site to enhance its critical role as a crucial green corridor between the Ludwell and Riverside Valley Parks, and as a pivotal link for people to enjoy these local greenspaces and to explore further afield.
A Hub for learning and communities – the Riverside and Ludwell Masterplan identified the need for visitor hubs at both Riverside and Ludwell and DWT and ECC have begun to discuss options for siting a flagship visitor facility at Riverside.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Bialyk added: “This is a marvellous decision. I am so proud I can stand here and say that I have stood by the commitment and delivered on what we said we would do.
“It will be a fantastic place and I cannot wait for it to happen. It will be an important asset and when you look at what we are doing with the Ludwell Valley, increases that by 13 acres, retaining the green spaces at Bull Meadow Park and Clifton Hill, I am proud of what we are doing with open spaces.”