A unique piece of Norwich’s natural and historic heritage has been saved by a community group’s hard-fought campaign to keep it in public hands.
Friends of Train Wood are celebrating after hearing yesterday that their 18-month battle has been successful and the land off Barn Road has officially been removed from Norfolk County Council’s ‘for sale’ portfolio, where it had been placed as ‘surplus to requirements’.
The move comes after a summit meeting with the group and the deputy leader of the county, David Harrison.
The council has also agreed to undertake the management of the site through its environment team, develop a management plan for the Marriott’s Way and Train Wood site and seek designation for the area as a Local Nature Reserve.
A jubilant Chair of Friends of Train Wood Alan Cubbage said the breakthrough had come after months of pressure: “We have been working very hard and this success is down to our whole committee and membership.”
“We knew that we could not give up on this piece of land. It has been neglected and the councils have not realised its potential. It is the most popular bit of cycle way in the eastern region, a key walking route, incredible railway heritage as the site of Norwich’s former station, a natural wonder with riverbank and wet woodland in the heart of the city.
“How it could be sold off was beyond belief. The community want to be part of managing it into the future. Already there are at least three funding bids in for the site and we will play a long term role.”
He also thanked partners involved in the campaign: “We haven’t got this far on our own. We’ve had strong backing from many organisations including particularly the Land Trust; Shared Assets; the Forestry Commission; Friends of Norwich City Station; Norwich and District Angling Association, Mills and Reeve solicitors, Starfish graphic design and the Stage.”
Richard Bearman, Green Party county councillor for Mancroft ward, where the wood is sited, said: “I want to pay tribute to the efforts of the community in getting this great outcome, so that the wood remains safe for ever for the benefit of everyone.”
Committee member and Wensum ward Green councillor Lucy Galvin said: “There aren’t many places in Norwich where you can hear a nightingale, see an otter AND get to work on a bike without risk of being in collision with a car. Train Wood is unique and precious and after a lot of hard work by many people we are all delighted and excited its future is secure.”
Saving Train Wood: campaign
March 2013 County council announces sale of Train Wood at auction with a guide price of £26,000
April 2013 Petition to Norwich city and Norfolk county councils to work together to keep Train Wood in public hands gets nearly 2,000 signatures
April/May 2013 Ruling Tory administration of Norfolk County council announces it will hold off sale to allow groups to bid; later confirmed by new Labour administration
August 2013 Friends of Train Wood officially forms and gets the site formally listed as an Asset of Community Value
March 2014 Friends of Train Wood now numbers 50 members; wins Norwich city council eco award for its activities including litter picks, surveys and events
September 2014 Deputy Leader Norfolk County Council David Harrison agrees Friends of Train Wood develops management plan for site with Land Trust; presents to Norfolk county council
November 2014 Train Wood removed from for sale portfolio; Norfolk County Council agree to undertake the site management, look to a range of funding sources
Friends of Train Wood entered The Norwich eco awards, they were looking for organisations and individuals who have made an environmentally-friendly contribution to the city in 2013. This could be a recycling scheme, cutting waste, saving energy or encouraging biodiversity, or any initiative which demonstrates a dedication to the eco cause.
Here’s the official picture of Richard Edwards, community officer, and Wyn Hurst, secretary, getting our ‘highly commended’ Norwich City Council Eco Hero award from Sheriff of Norwich Graham Creelman – and above with all the award winners.
Following The Friends of Train Wood Annual General Meeting on the 18th September, the new committee for the year 2013 – 2014 has been elected.
Chairman: Alan Cubbage
Honorary Treasurer: Adrian Holmes
Honorary Secretary: Wyn Hurst
Membership Secretary: Jan Middleton
Management Co-ordinator: Lucy Galvin
Publicity Officer: Nick Stone
Community Liaison Officer: Richard Edwards
Operations manager: John Batley
Heritage manager: Stuart McPherson
Research Co-ordinator: Tish Kerkham
The meeting, at the Norman Centre, was well attended by members, with Open forum session providing plenty of useful new input regarding maintenance of the site, the future of the group and fund-raising strategies.
It’s official – we have been successful in getting Train Wood officially listed an ‘Asset of Community Value’ – only the second in Norwich.
We are also in talks with Norfolk county council about taking on a lease to run the land as a public amenity.
Friends of Train Wood and Marriott’s Way started the ACV* application process – which goes through the city council – back in April and are delighted that planners at city hall recently (August 14) confirmed that we as a group have been successful. It demonstrates just how much the public care about keeping this land open to all.
City hall have now notified the land owner – Norfolk County Council. We are already working with the county to take over the lease and run this important piece of Norwich’s heritage.
Thanks to the many committee members and campaigners who have given their time, we’ve got a healthy survey going on, have had a very successful few public events and plan an AGM soon. Watch this space!
We are currently planning some more dates for litter picks and general clean up of train wood, we will publish the dates here as soon as we know more. There are also plans for a public meeting again soon so we can update everyone on the progress with the campaign to keep the site in public ownership and tell you what has been going on and how we are progressing with plans to protect the site.
Watch this space or join us on Facebook for regular updates. You can find us on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/friendsoftrainwood
Welcome to the new website and blog for the Friends of Train Wood group, The project to develop the website is ongoing, so keep an eye on the blog and the site in general as it gradually fills with information.
We will be using the website along with our Facebook page to publicise news and events on Train Wood and the locality, focusing on any events that take place to maintain or support the area and the project. There are also area of the site devoted to various aspects of this rare wet and dry woodland habitat, you will find in the ‘About the woodland section’ a variety of pages that cover the history and heritage of the site and the surrounding area, the natural diversity of the plant and animal life, the river and the surroundings.
We will also focus on how the project is advancing and the situation regarding the ownership of this currently publicly owned piece of woodland, and how we are trying to keep this green corridor a public space. There will also be information on the campaign, publicity and opinion. If you want to get involved and either support us with a donation or help with the woodland management in the future or have any suggestions please get in touch. This project already has strong public backing with 1,600 people signing a petition to keep Train Wood in the hands of the public in just a few weeks. Areas like this are important, not just to teh local community but to anyone who walks or cycles to and from the city.
We will be holding a litter pick on the Train Wood section of the Marriott’s Way on Saturday 18 May, meet 10.00am at start of Marriott’s Way, Barn Road roundabout. Equipment provided. Please email email@example.com confirming if you can come. As we need an idea on how many pairs of gloves to bring.