Green Spaces: Discussion Paper and Second Questionnaire

Introduction

“South Hams residents are invited to have their say on local green spaces including parks, wildlife areas, footpaths, bridleways, cycle routes, sports facilities, play areas and allotments.” – SHDC

There is no doubt from research that communities with easy access to green spaces enhances a sense of wellbeing, and promotes good mental and physical health. (http://www.hutton.ac.uk/research/projects/green-health).

But we should be thinking beyond just human wellbeing. The RSPB report on The State of Nature 2016 said “A new measure that assesses how intact a country’s biodiversity is, suggests that the UK has lost significantly more nature over the long term than the global average. (http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/State%20of%20Nature%20UK%20report_%2020%20Sept_tcm9-424984.pdf)

We have enormous Natural Capital in our Parish.  Is it under threat? Could more be made of what we have? This short paper provides a few initial ideas to see what more might be made of our green spaces in the Neighbourhood Plan. The Estuary is of course a magnificent “space”, but is technically outside the remit of the NP, and has been considered in a separate paper devoted to the subject. We believe Ecological Habitat Surveys should be undertaken, covering both flora and fauna, so we have data for what is present in key areas today, and monitor during the course of the NP to identify any trends, good or bad. In this way we can try to ensure that any delicate ecological systems are not damaged, and this should include estuary and land, with anything that cannot be included in the NP being part of a parallel “Parish Action Plan”. Where possible we should link up with similar projects in neighbouring parishes  (e.g. “Bee-lines” of nectar rich wildflower belts, pollinator friendly ecology etc.).

A worthwhile objective could be to connect some of the many small woodlands with volunteer tree planting and unobtrusive footpaths where practical, and as long as it did not affect the farming of the land or of the wildlife associated with it. A separate Green Spaces survey has been carried out. This paper adds detail and discussion.  We hope that you find it useful and informative.  To this end we would ask you to fill in the short questionnaire (which you will find at the foot of the paper) giving us your views on the subject matter covered.

Where are the spaces?

The main green spaces (mainly Woodland) within the parish are as follows. Those that are in continuity or joined by a footpath are displayed on the same line. We feel all these should be listed:

  • Fordhill Plantation, Ferry Wood, Passage Wood, Brakehill Plantation (NT)
  • Stoke Wood (NT)
  • Centry Wood (NT)
  • Eastern Hill Wood, Brookings Down Wood (both WT + RYDA), Noss Recreation area, Tennis Courts, Community Orchard, Gypsy Meadow (NNPC)
  • Woodland owned by PC creekside of Pillory Hill Noss, between the pumping station and Junket Corner
  • Pitts Hill Wood
  • Hewster’s Wood
  • Membland Wood
  • Brickford’s Wood, Preston Hill Wood
  • Collaton Wood
  • Widey Hill Wood
  • Court Wood, Newton Wood (WT), (Crawl Wood, Hanaford Green, West Wood are private)
  • Parson’s Heddon Plantation, Heddon Wood
  • Triangular piece of land to the south of the public toilets at Noss Hard

And open communal spacesare as follows:

  • The Green, Parsonage Road (NNPC)
  • Butts Park Recreation area (NNPC)
  • Noss Recreation area (NNPC, see 4. Above)

Noss currently benefits from linkage of the group of Brooking Down Wood open spaces identified above.

Note: all the Parish owned land can be found on http://newtonandnoss-pc.gov.uk/uploads/NNPC-LandInterestsJune2016.pdf

There are also 3 beaches used for recreation, Cellar, Warren, and Stoke, and the sand bar at the bar mouth is used at spring low tides during the summer to play cricket matches on. Popes Quay is a popular point from which children swim in the summer (unofficially as not registered for swimming)

In principle we would like to ensure that

  • no green spaces are lost to the community for building or other purposes unless shown to be environmentally appropriate
  • as many as are practical are linked up with safe foot paths where they do not interfere with nature or the landowner’s main purpose for the land
  • public access to additional green space is acquired, particularly if it allows linking with other similar spaces through negotiation with the landowners.
  • Signage is improved so that visitors are made properly aware of location of footpaths and other facilities.

Trees and Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)

You only have to look around you as you walk through the Parish to appreciate the importance of trees.   Our trees are under threat from old age  (inadequate replanting), and disease, and many will disappear unless we take steps to protect them; the consequences would be catastrophic:

  • A loss of biodiversity – a mature oak supports over 3000 different species, sycamore about 900
  • An increase in global warming – trees are important for fixing carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere
  • A loss of visual amenity – the Parish would look stark without them.

Among the major threats to our trees are the following:

  • Disease – many will remember the effects of Dutch Elm Disease (Ascomycota) in the 1970s and the death of many of our most loved country-side trees; the loss seems permanent. Today we are suffering from ash-dieback (Chalara).  Ash is one of our commonest trees, and the latest research shows that 97% of Ash will be killed or seriously affected by die-back. We also have what was originally called Sudden Oak death, but is now referred to as Ramorum; It is affecting our oaks and it attacks may other species, such as sweet chestnut and larch.
  • Development – the first thing for many developers is to clear-fell the site to gain the maximum access for building machinery and the delivery of materials – bricks, concrete, tiles etc.
  • Farming Practice – clearing small areas of woodland to increase production. Removing hedges and cutting those remaining to a height, trimming off their growing points and so preventing any trees becoming tall. Many of our existing tall trees have grown from former hedges, and this may no longer happen.

We have to remember that trees can live for many decades, sometimes for centuries, so they cannot be easily or quickly replaced and species can be lost forever. We must be vigilant for our trees and woodlands, using the provisions of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) where appropriate.   The South Hams Interactive map website:          http://gis.swdevon.gov.uk/CNET4914LIVE/CMFindIt/  shows TPOs and Conservation Areas – see the ‘Map Search’ panel.

We must replant trees when necessary, and nurture young trees and hedges; we must show everyone how important it is to care for our trees.

Village Centres

There is no main centre to the villages but several natural focal points that could possibly be enhanced with the help of a landscape designer. The following areas are worth considering –

  • 1.the road space in front of the Noss Village Hall and Tilly Institute, could be enlarged by taking in the presently unused triangle to the south of the public toilets. At present this is a privately owned and untidy area that detracts from this natural focal point.
  • the road space from the cross at the bottom of Newton Hill and along the frontage of the Dolphin & Yacht Club. This is very much a focal point during the summer and probably could not be improved significantly.
  • potentially The Green on the southern end of Parsonage Road. At the moment a very under-utilised area split between the smaller raised green in front of the WIC Hall, and the larger grassed area on the other side of the road.

The Green on Parsonage Road has potential but is bisected by the main road into the villages and is a difficult area to access due to its elevated position behind low stone walls.  It does however have access to rare parking spaces, the Newton WIC Hall and a Tea House, and the school is nearby. Because of the facilities available here The Green is one of the most suitable locations to create a “centre” for congregation, if the disadvantages could be overcome by traffic calming measures and a pedestrian crossing. The larger green on the school side of the road has level access and could easily have marquees or sales tables for village markets or shows. It would undoubtedly be enhanced by thoughtful landscape design to make it more accessible.

  • The Noss playing field, Tennis Courts, Children’s Play Area, Community Orchard and Community Woodland (Brookings Down Wood) is a very effective recreational area, and the adjacent playing field is excellent for events such as the Village Picnic or the Big Lunch, but is not at the heart of the village, and at present the most effective places for people to congregate in Noss are around the Public Houses on both sides of the creek – The Ship and the Swan (including Pope’s Quay).

How to make safe footpath linkage

Most of the currently available Noss Green Spaces are linked via the coastal path (National Trust) or Council roads (Brookings Down Wood, Eastern Hill Wood, tennis courts, Playing Field), but the key ones on the Newton side are separated by some dangerous roads and these hazardous areas need to be addressed. A pedestrian crossing at The Green has been mentioned, and leading on north from here, the new footpath to Butts Park & playing field & Collaton Cross is a great improvement.  Traffic problems at The Green at school drop off and pick up times are in part because parents may feel roads are too dangerous to walk, and therefore drive, often a short distance in a large car.

Solution – have safer footpaths and have a parent’s car park within the school grounds!

The road is dangerous for pedestrians from The Green to the south down Bridgend Road from Barnicott. This needs a safe footpath – for details please go to:

http://www.n3p.co.uk/discussion-paper-environmental-issues-associated-with-community-infrastructure/ paragraph 6 and

http://www.n3p.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Bridgend-Voss-proposal.pdf

Another way of making some of the roads safer for pedestrians if there is no other way of securing an off-road footpath, is to create a virtual footpath by painting it in –

Alternatively if road  ‘pinch point’ is too narrow a change in surface to say granite sets slows traffic and gives a sense of shared surface.

There are several dangerous roads in Noss that could be considered for improved pedestrian safety such as Stoke Road and Revelstoke Road, particularly the section near the Bridgend Quay down to the bridge at Bridgend.

Suggestions for creating large circular walk Newton-Puslinch-Bridgend

 

 

 

There are already magnificent circular coastal walks from Noss, and a contrasting one could be created from Newton. The walk through Court Wood and Newton Wood currently turns back above Shortaflete Creek. If a permissive pathway could be negotiated with the landowner(s) to continue along the estuary through Crawl Wood and West Wood and on to Puslinch, then a return via the road to Collaton Cross and on to Bridgend along existing footpaths via Collaton Farm and Wood would complete the circuit. Note: if a habitat survey identified estuary nesting sites or other ecological reasons to avoid disturbance then the route would need to be altered accordingly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questionnaire