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Praise for community fields project

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Praise for community fields project

A new community green space in Eckington has been praised as a ‘fantastic example’ of the benefits of Neighbourhood Plans.

Eckington Community Fields was created from a seven-acre piece of land gifted to the village as part of a housing development. More than 170 trees have been planted along with various wildflowers and new hedgerows. Accessible paths have also been installed.

The project came out of consultations with residents as part of the creation of Eckington’s Neighbourhood Plan, which identified a desire for a natural space that people of all ages could enjoy.Three men stood on a path in front of a field.

In return for supporting the proposed housing development through the plan, the village was not only gifted the land, but £200,000 was given to the parish council to develop the project. Another £61,000 has been secured through planning agreements, £24,000 through Wychavon’s New Homes Bonus scheme and £63,157 from Worcestershire County Council’s Natural Networks programme.

There are exciting plans for the future with a community orchard, memorial garden, community garden with micro allotments, a natural play area and a small car park in the pipeline. There is also hope in the future a disused building on the site could be turned into a new community facility.

 Further consultation is being held with residents while the parish council waits to see if a bid to Wychavon’s Community Legacy Grant scheme and the Natural Networks scheme have been successful.

Cllr Tim Knight, Chair of Eckington Parish Council, said: “We decided if we are going to have to take the housing, then we may as well get some benefit for the village. Having a Neighbourhood Plan has allowed us to do that.

“Not only have we ended up with less housing than was originally proposed, but it’s also given us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create something that will have lasting benefit for the community.”

Cllr Emma Kearsey, Executive Board Member for Planning, Infrastructure and Urban Design, on Wychavon District Council, said: “The Eckington Community Fields project is a fantastic example of how Neighbourhood Plans are playing a vital role in shaping communities in the way residents themselves want.

“We have pledged support and promotion of Neighbourhood Plans over the next four years in our new We Are Wychavon Plan. The aim is for the majority of Wychavon to have a Neighbourhood Plan in place to allow the opportunities Eckington now enjoys to be replicated across the district.”

Visit Wychavon's Neighbourhood Planning page to find out more about the process and how it could benefit your town or parish.

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