A Vision for Queenswood and Bodenham Lake

 

During a series of meetings and public events during the consultation about the possibility of a Community Asset Transfer of Queenswood and Bodenham Lake, in September 2014, we articulated and developed the following vision for the sites.

The vision is a series of ideas and possibilities for the long term; they are not specific proposals. We do not suggest that our ideas are fully formed but we are committed to establishing their feasibility and – if they prove viable – to endeavouring to implement them.

The Vision

The purpose of our vision for Queenswood and Bodenham Lake is that the sites will increasingly serve:

  • to raise public awareness of issues surrounding sustainable development;
  • to demonstrate that promoting human wellbeing and the conservation/ flourishing of wildlife are worthwhile and inter-related objectives and that these aims can be achieved whilst achieving economic viability;
  • to showcase a range of sustainability and conservation initiatives in practice.

We appreciate Queenswood and Bodenham Lake as unique natural assets and places of intrinsic beauty. We aim to ensure that their essence is maintained and carefully developed. We will ensure that the Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the arboretum, the overall woodland, the lake and its environ are all carefully managed to enhance biodiversity; thereby preserving their beauty and character whilst promoting respectful use by the public.

We would endeavour to develop Queenswood and Bodenham Lake into demonstration sites that showcase key aspects of a sustainable Herefordshire - a vibrant, healthy, naturally flourishing and resilient county. In particular, we would aim to:

Appreciation of/ Affinity with Nature

  • Help to promote public appreciation of the health benefits of engaging with nature and promote a deeper respect for wildlife and the natural environment.
  • Enhance people’s awareness of natural beauty; enhancing their experience and making it more conscious by interpretation boards, guided walks and a range of educational programmes (adding to the excellent existing activities, see below).
  • Use the woods and the lake to promote wellbeing for the less privileged sections of our community, including the physically disabled, learning disabled, alienated and temporarily unwell. This may include activities such as sailing for the disabled, and aspects of care farming.

Biodiversity

  • Improve further the long-term ecological integrity of the sites. Both Queenswood and Bodenham Lake are blessed with wonderful biodiversity, but this can be enhanced by (for example) ensuring that European protected species e.g. bats and dormice are fully considered.
  • Seek to ensure protection of species like otter, at Bodenham Lake, improving habitats, as well as improving public access and viewing facilities, etc.
  • Actively manage Queenswood as a working woodland, through supporting the development of a co-operative of woodland workers, to promote biodiversity and produce sustainable products

Economics

  • Demonstrate that the pursuit of ecological enhancement and human wellbeing in the development of these sites does not have to be funded by the public purse – and that the sites can be made financially self sustaining by adopting an entrepreneurial, social enterprise approach, which benefits the community and the local economy.

Tourism

  • Build on the popularity of Queenswood (already the most visited single site in Herefordshire) and work in partnership with others to develop Herefordshire as a green tourist destination and one of the sustainable development centres of the UK.
  • Help attract inward investment from individuals and businesses keen to avail themselves of the marketing opportunities this presents

Food

  • Promote a localised food economy in which residents become more engaged in how their food is produced; its effects on their health and its impact on the environment, including carbon emissions and water quality / use. This supports the Herefordshire Food Partnership’s work and their Sustainable Food Strategy.
  • Encourage the café at Queenswood to be an exemplar of this – promoting local (and where appropriate, Fairtrade) ethically produced food and communicating the environmental and health benefits of this.
  • Create a food retail outlet (perhaps similar to but smaller than the Ludlow Food centre), showcasing the best of Herefordshire’s produce.

Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Generation

  • Apply for finance to retrofit the existing buildings to the highest standards of efficiency – and to ensure that any new buildings commissioned are built as demonstrations of best practice energy efficiency, renewable energy generation and water use. These visible exemplars will help the public to understand what is possible with both existing and new buildings and the financial and wellbeing benefits.
  • Install heating systems at both locations using renewable heating technologies. Queenswood will, over time, also become a source of sustainably produced, wildlife-friendly wood fuel.

Education

  • Develop the unique natural settings of Queenswood and Bodenham lake as beautiful centres of deep and experiential learning. We aim to work in partnership with educational providers (potentially including the New University of Herefordshire and the proposed University for Wellbeing) to optimise the uptake of these opportunities.
  • Build an education & visitors’ centre at Queenswood, which would offer a range of revolving exhibitions and a growing variety of short courses and other educational initiatives (eg: coppicing, hurdle making, flower & tree identification, fungal foraging, green woodworking, ornithology, watercolour painting etc).
  • Develop and market a calendar of events, which entice new visitors to these locations, in the belief that they will be inspired when they come. These activities will build upon current and previous activities at both sites and learning from successful pre-existing initiatives like HNT’s nationally recognised LEMUR apprenticeships, and Wildplay which works with schools, parents and teachers across the county.
  • Ideally, also acquire funding and permissions to develop a purpose built education centre at Bodenham Lake for use by small groups in a tranquil environment to follow on from the “taster course” they will have sampled at the Queenswood centre. 

Community

  • Involve as broad a sector of the community as possible in the running and development of Queenswood and Bodenham Lake through our membership scheme, advisory board and a range of other communication and engagement approaches
  • Create a sense of ownership, mutual responsibility and social cohesion around the sites – and around the sustainability principles that they will increasingly exemplify.