Shotley Heritage Park Business Plan 19 January 2012

Shotley Heritage Park

 

Business Plan

 

19 January 2012

 

 

 

Contents

 

Introduction                                                     Page 2

 

Background                                                      Page 2

 

Community Support                                         Page 3

 

Mission Statement                                           Page 6

 

Objectives                                                        Page 7

 

Methodology                                                     Page 7

 

Funding                                                            Page 11

 

Timescales                                                       Page 12

Ongoing Maintenance                                      Page 13

 

Appendix 1                                      Location Map and photo                            

Appendix 2                                      Gabions at Shotley Cliff

Appendix 3                                      Picnic area, Shotley Gate

Appendix 4                                      History of HMS Ganges

Appendix 5                                      Signatures of Supporters

Appendix 6                                      Letters of Support

Appendix 7                                      Project briefing notes

Appendix 8                                      Holbrook High School Summary Appendix 9                                             Cliff and Woodland Survey

Appendix 10                                    Land sale offer to Parish Council

Appendix 11                                    Land valuation report

Appendix 12                                    Budget costings

Appendix 13                                    Existing information boards

Introduction

Shotley Cliff, associated Woodland and Foreshore is an existing area of privately owned land located at Shotley Gate, Ipswich (see map, appendix 1).

 

This is made up of 50 acres of Foreshore (tidal mudflats), woodland of 7 acres, and a natural sloping Cliff (predominantly of London Clay) that links the two. To the east of the area, the cliff rises to approximately 30 metres in height above sea level abounded by private properties and to the west of the area the cliff height is approximately 3 metres above sea level abounded by agricultural farmland.

 

During the 1990’s, the landowner applied for planning permission to erect several properties within the woodland area. Although permission was refused at that time, and no further applications have been made by the landowner since, planning permission has been granted to others for properties immediately adjacent to the woodland. There is a possibility that further permissions would be sought for properties within the woodland in the future.

 

Following extensive work during 2010 and 2011 to provide erosion protection to the foot of Shotley Cliff (a community led project and supported by all of the Statutory Authorities who have an interest in the area), an opportunity has arisen for Shotley Parish Council to purchase Shotley Cliff, Foreshore and associated Woodland.

 

Shotley Parish Council is looking to raise funds to purchase the area and establish ‘Shotley Heritage Park’. This would be a community project that would preserve the open space and amenity of the area for future generations, protect wildlife habitats, flora and fauna, and inform residents and visitors about the Heritage of Shotley.

 

Background

During 2010 and 2011 extensive work has been done by the Shotley Community to provide erosion protection to the foot of Shotley Cliff. The erosion protection project comprised 258 metres of gabions (marine grade mesh cages filled with recycled concrete) (see photographs, appendix 2).

 

This work involved all of the Statutory Bodies in agreeing this solution to prevent further erosion, that would meet all of the conditions to preserve the existing designated ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, its status as a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ and ‘Special Protected Area’, and that the work would not interfere with the birdlife that used the mudflats as a natural feeding ground. The foreshore adjacent to the western end of Shotley Cliff is an existing RSPB reserve of international significance.

 

The cost of the erosion protection project of £125,000 was funded by contributions from many of the statutory bodies – Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB unit and the Environment Agency being the major contributors. Other significant funds came from Shotley Parish Council and Hutchison Ports, who owns and operates the nearby Harwich and Felixstowe Port facilities.

 

In addition, significant efforts were made within the Shotley Community to raise money for this necessary project. The local fundraising efforts culminated in the winning, with the highest number of public votes, a competition organised by the Haven Gateway Partnership in 2011 for £18,000 of funding. This additional money not only helped the community to finish the erosion protection project but also to renovate an existing dilapidated picnic area at Shotley Gate (appendix 3).

 

On completion of the erosion protection work, the restoration of the picnic area and improvements to the coastal footpath, the project was officially opened on 19 September 2011 by the Rt Hon Tim Yeo MP, and the event featured live on BBC Radio Suffolk.

 

A necessary aspect of the erosion protection work is that there is responsibility for ongoing maintenance, and that the construction is covered by appropriate Public Liability Insurance. Shotley Parish Council has taken on this role within its community open spaces responsibilities.

 

As the gabions are installed on existing privately owned land it was agreed with the landowner that the Parish Council would take legal ownership of the strip of land on which the gabions occupied.

 

It was at this point that the landowner of the foreshore, cliff and woodland took the initiative and offered the whole of the area to the Shotley Parish Council for a purchase price of £20,000 plus legal costs.

 

Community Support

As a result of the offer to purchase the foreshore, cliff and associated woodland, the Parish Council and community group have looked at whether there would be support from within the community for a long term project that would preserve the area as a ‘green space’ for future generations. The consensus is that the area could be managed in a way that preserves wildlife habitats and protects valuable flora and fauna and at the same time continues to provide a relatively safe public amenity for all to enjoy – both residents and visitors.

 

In addition, with the rich heritage of the Shotley Peninsula, particularly the close links that Shotley has had with the Naval Community through HMS Ganges, a naval ‘dry’ training ship at Shotley for 71 years until it closed in 1976 (see appendix 4 – a short chronological history of HMS Ganges) it was considered appropriate to take the opportunity to use the area to inform people about the role Shotley has played over the years.

Thus the proposal to create a Heritage Park came about.

 

In time, subject to future proposals and funding, several other sites in and around Shotley could be linked in to a ‘Heritage Trail’. Examples of other sites include the Naval and Submariners cemeteries at St Mary’s church, the Viking Forest project ‘Golden Wood’, and the currently inaccessible Martello Towers and Napoleonic fort at the rear of Shotley Marina. This fort was built during the 1860’s and was part of the fortification of the Stour and Orwell basin, linked in to additional forts at Landguard (Felixstowe) and Redoubt (Harwich).

 

As the erosion protection construction continued, information relating to the proposal to create a Heritage Park at Shotley Gate was made available to the community via the ‘Shotley Noticeboard’, a newsletter distributed to every household in Shotley (approx 1800) every two months.

 

A number of local events have taken place where the Heritage Park proposal has been discussed:

 

  • ‘Images of Shotley’ photographic competition April 2010
  • ‘Images of Shotley’ photographic competition April 2011
  • Monthly ‘lunch club’ at the local village hall, 2011
  • Parish Council Annual Review May 2011
  • Rural Coffee Caravan ‘Golden Age Fair’ August 2011
  • Shotley Rose Fete August 2011
  • Shotley Primary School Fair July 2011

 

At the ‘Images of Shotley’ events, ‘Golden Age Fair’, Rose Fete and School Fair, display boards were erected with poster sized photographs of the foreshore, cliff and woodlands on display. All of the feedback received is positive in favour of the proposal to establish a Heritage Park, with many residents particularly keen to see the maritime history of Shotley taking a prominent place on the information boards.

 

At the Shotley Rose Fete we easily obtained 131 signatures and addresses of people who are keen to support our proposals (see appendix 5).

 

We have also had many letters of support from local groups and other organisations. Of particular note is the number that refers to the benefits to young people, either in helping to establish the park or in maintaining it in the future (see appendix 6).

 

To help with the initial research into Shotley Heritage, and creation of information boards we have discussed our project with Senior staff at Holbrook High School (the only comprehensive High School on the Shotley Peninsula), with many of their pupils resident in Shotley and nearby villages of Chelmondiston, Erwarton, Woolverstone, Harkstead, Wherstead and Holbrook.

 

During June 2011, a group of pupils from Holbrook High visited the site of the Heritage Park to look at what opportunities it could provide. This team, from the Information and Technology study group, took various photographs, and interviewed members of our community group about the project aims and objectives.

 

In November 2011 a second team from Holbrook High, this time from the History group, visited the HMS Ganges Museum located at Shotley Marina to gain an understanding of the Maritime Heritage of Shotley. Following a brief presentation by one of our group members (see appendix 7, ‘project briefing notes’) the group engaged in a question and answer session with the proprietor of the Museum (George Barnham). This was followed by a visit to the woodland area and further questions to the community group.

 

The result of the various visits to the project by Holbrook High School pupils is the production of a brief DVD presentation produced by the school that sets out the opportunities that the project offers the school in the short term, and how they would like to use the facility in the long term. A copy of this short presentation can be obtained from Shotley Parish Council.

 

A summary of the current and future involvement of Holbrook High School is attached (appendix 8). This was written by David Hall, Assistant Headteacher at Holbrook High School, and responsible for Community Liaison. David has been working with Hannah Byrne, Head of History to ensure that they get the most out of this community project.

 

In the longer term, they see there is potential for youngsters in many development and learning activities including orienteering, canoeing, specialist history studies (Napolionic and Second World War), photography and wildlife/nature studies. To be able to influence this development is a unique opportunity.

 

In addition to the Heritage Park proposals being detailed at local events, as a result of approval to carry out erosion protection to Shotley Cliff, opportunities have been taken to outline the proposals to a wider Regional audience:

 

  • Discussion on BBC Radio Suffolk on James Hazell programme in April 2011 to outline proposals for renovation of picnic area, and reveal long term plan for a Heritage Park at Shotley Gate.

 

  • Press coverage in the East Anglian Daily Times about public support for the renovation of the picnic area, and possible creation of a Heritage Park in the future.
  • Stour and Orwell Estuaries Forum at University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich Waterfront, September 2011 – presentation by Shotley Community Group on the future ‘Shotley Heritage park’.

 

  • Live outside Broadcast on BBC Radio Suffolk in May 2011 when announcement was made about winning the Haven Gateway Partnership prize of £18k of funding. Long term plan to establish a Heritage Park discussed ‘on air’.

 

  • Formal opening of picnic area and erosion protection project on 19 Sept 2011 carried out by Rt Hon Tim Yeo MP for South Suffolk. BBC Radio Suffolk covered the event with a live broadcast from Shotley Gate. Picnic area mentioned as a possible ‘gateway’ to the proposed Heritage Park. Over 80 residents attended the opening.

 

  • Haven Gateway Partnership website and Groundwork Trust website from October 2011 feature the success of the Shotley Gate erosion protection project. Websites outline future proposals to create a ‘green space legacy’ for future generations with the Heritage park proposal.

 

  • HMS Ganges Museum ‘memorial seat’ formally unveiled at Shotley picnic area in December 2011. BBC Radio Suffolk covered the event in a Radio Interview with the Community Group (Rachel Sloane Programme 14 December). Plan to create a Heritage Park in the future explained more fully by the Community Group. East Anglian Daily Times also covered the unveiling event.

 

Mission Statement

Shotley Heritage Park will be a non-profit making project, managed by Shotley Parish Council on behalf of the local Community.

 

It aims to ensure that Shotley Cliff, Foreshore and associated Woodland is preserved as a public amenity and green space, with existing wildlife habitats, flora and fauna protected from disturbance and damage.

 

The amenity will be developed within the framework of the Suffolk Biodiversity Action Plan, with an ongoing programme of habitat management.

 

Storyboards within the Heritage Park will inform and educate visitors about the significance of the area, in particular the Maritime History associated with Shotley.

 

Objectives

  1. Purchase the Cliff, Foreshore and associated Woodland (57 acres in total) from the current landowner.

 

  1. Install a set of steps with handrail to link the footpath at the bottom of the cliff to the footpath at the top. Handrail to continue on sloping ground up to the upper footpath.

 

  1. Convert an existing disused WWII ‘Bofurs Gun Empacement’ into a viewing gallery, affording views across the River Stour.

 

  1. Install information boards at appropriate points throughout the woodland to inform visitors about the area’s Heritage.

 

  1. Carry out improvements to the Cliff and Woodlands as detailed in the ‘Cliff and Woodland Survey’ document, January 2012 (appendix 9).

 

  1. Establish a network of volunteers to help with the ongoing maintenance work, as detailed in the Cliff and Woodland Survey document, January 2012.

 

  1. Work with local schools and other organisations to develop the amenity as an educational facility. This could include any of the activities mentioned in the report done by Holbrook High School (appendix 8)

 

Methodology

To achieve the objectives will require a number of different activities, each of which will have technical, environmental, financial and people impacts.

 

Objective 1,

The current landowner has offered the 57 acres site for sale to Shotley Parish Council for an asking price of £20,000 (appendix 10).

The Parish Council has requested an independent valuation of the land by the Valuation Office Agency. This has been carried out and the land was valued at a total of £21,700 (appendix 11).

 

The cost of land purchase, without which this project would fail, is proposed to be met by combined funding from a number of applications.

 

Once funding is available, Shotley Parish Council will instruct its solicitor to go ahead with the purchase. We will then be able to continue with the completion of other objectives.

 

Objective 2 and 3

Budget costings have been provided by an experienced contractor for the installation of new access steps and creation of the viewing gallery.

At this stage, subject to successful funding, it is expected that the work would be able to be completed with the capital available (see appendix 12).

 

Depending on the money available, which may increase as local fundraising continues or other funding becomes available, the actual construction costs will also be variable. This would be dependent on choice of materials, construction techniques and actual positioning of the finished steps. The construction of the viewing platform can also be modified dependent upon size, material choice and level of ‘finish’. Costings for this funding application are based upon contractor experience and best practice.

 

Three quotes will be obtained for the construction works to an agreed design and specification and a contractor appointed.

 

Planning permission and any other consents and licenses required will be obtained by Shotley Parish Council via the Community Working Group.

 

Progress of the works will be reported monthly to the Parish Council’s Open Spaces and Amenities Committee, and a summary presented monthly to the full Parish Council.

 

The Parish Council’s Public Liability Insurance indemnity will be extended to include any additional requirements as a result of the purchase of the Cliff, Foreshore and Woodlands, and as a result of any construction works carried out.

 

Objective 4

Information boards vary in their design, material choice and information content (e.g words or maps and diagrams). The information to be displayed has yet to be detailed, and will be subject to the research to be carried out by Holbrook High School.

 

It is anticipated that approximately 10 ‘storyboards’ would be needed, plus an assortment of direction indicators and signs.

 

Three quotes will be obtained and a supplier appointed. Amongst considerations in choice of supplier will be type of materials, aesthetics, and durability. Examples of the type and style of information boards already in use at Shotley Gate are shown in appendix 13.

 

Objective 5

The Cliff and Woodland Survey document January 2012 (appendix 9) details the work to be done to improve the area. This work is to be carried out in two phases.

 

Phase 1 – within the first year of acquisition the woodland improved as follows:

  • footpath trip hazards to be removed
  • designated public pathways to be defined and signs erected to indicate the walk routes
  • dumped garden and kitchen waste to be removed
  • areas cleared of other waste and rubbish
  • significant deadwood and unwanted undergrowth to be removed
  • trees and shrubs in danger of falling to be cut back or removed
  • Wildlife habitats, flora and fauna to be protected where necessary

 

Phase 2 – On an ongoing basis after the first year of acquisition, regular maintenance, coppicing, planting etc as detailed in the Cliff and Woodland Survey document.

 

Objective 6

The work done for phase 1 and 2 will predominantly be volunteer labour and therefore at nil cost. However, some specialist skills and equipment may be needed during the first year, and less frequently thereafter e.g. Tree cutting, shredding, waste disposal.

 

A budget cost is included for the hire of specialist skills and equipment for the first year of the project. Thereafter the costs of maintenance will be met by local fundraising, and where necessary by fund application to appropriate providers.

 

The specialist who helped complete the Cliff and Woodland Survey document is a local resident and has offered to help on a voluntary basis to oversee and manage the woodland improvement plan. Additional management and volunteer working support has been offered by other organisations – e.g. the Woodland Trust, The Viking Forest Project, RSPB and Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB unit.

 

 

During the development of the picnic area and erosion protection project in 2010 and 2011, 25 volunteers were involved at various stages. In addition, as information about the Heritage Park Proposal has been circulated, many more people from the local community have come forward to offer their help. If our application for funding is successful, and the Heritage Park project becomes a reality, there will be sufficient volunteers to carry out the work in hand.

 

Objective 7

Shotley Primary School and Holbrook High School intend to make use of the amenity in a number of ways:

 

Holbrook High School

Holbrook High have visited the project site and HMS Ganges Museum at Shotley Marina to gain an understanding of the extent of the project, and an appreciation of the Naval Heritage associated with Shotley Gate. The facilities of the Museum have been offered to the school for research purposes, as they have a wealth of information related to the history of the Ganges Training Establishment.

 

Initially, history students will find out as much as they can about the way in which the cliff and woodland were used during the war years, and how the River Stour supported the Royal Navy reserve fleet in the post WW2 years.

 

They will go on to develop information ‘Storyboards’ that will be produced and sited throughout the Heritage Park, to relate the story of Shotley to visitors. As outlined in appendix 8 further uses for the amenity will be developed in the long term as ‘extra curriculum activities’ for student learning and development, and possibly as a precursor to future employment – for example wildlife habitat preservation and management, environmental conservation and coastal erosion control (itself becoming of increasing concern throughout the country).

 

Shotley Primary School

For the age group up to 11 years old the woodland will be used for nature walks, birdwatching and general wildlife habitat appreciation. It will be used as an introduction to conservation and environmental management albeit at a less academic level that Holbrook High.

 

 

 

 

General Educational Development

The facility will be open access at all times throughout the year, and many other schools and organisations can make use the facility. In time, if demand develops, guided walks could be arranged by local volunteers to point out things of interest.

 

Links with Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB unit, RSPB, Natural England and other similar organisations could formalise the role of the Heritage Park in the educating of the public about the role of our Natural Environment.

 

 

 

Funding

This project offers a unique opportunity for Shotley Parish Council, on behalf of the community it serves, to properly manage a significant area of woodland, cliff and foreshore as a safe amenity for all to enjoy.

 

The offer for sale to the Parish Council by the landowner is considered reasonable and value for money (objective 1 and appendix 10/11).

 

The costs for steps, viewing gallery and information boards is budget at this stage and realistic. Actual quotations will be obtained as per Parish Council standing orders when funding is finally known. The project deliverables can be ‘flexed’ according to finances available. For example, the minimum funding required is £25,000, which will cover the actual purchase of the land plus anticipated legal fees. Without this purchase, then further work cannot be carried out.

 

Additional funding below the target value may mean only a limited number of information boards and signs can be purchased and installed, and the viewing gallery may be developed possibly without the steps being installed at this stage. Additional funding requests can be made in future years to develop the site in various phases.

 

However, at this stage, to make a considerable improvement to the amenity, the plan is to raise the target funding of £50,000. If more money became available, for example through additional community fundraising, then we would be able to do more than initially envisaged – for example improve some pathways for wheelchair access.

 

 

 

 

 

Budget Costs for the project are:

 

Land purchase of Foreshore, Cliff and Associated Woodlands including legal fees £25,000.00
Installation of Steps from bottom to top of cliff inclusive of labour and materials £3,000.00
Renovation of existing concrete platform to form viewing gallery inclusive of labour and materials £6,000.00
Purchase and installation of ‘Storyboards’, and information signs throughout the project area inclusive of labour and materials £5,000.00
Total £50,000.00

 

 

 

Timescales

From the date of confirmation of the fund available, assuming notification in June 2012, outline timescales as follows:

Activity Start date End date
Purchase site 01/06/12 01/07/12
Obtain planning permission for steps and viewing gallery 01/06/12 01/09/12
Carry out woodland improvement works as detailed in objective 5 01/07/12 01/06/13
Install steps and create viewing gallery as detailed in objectives 2 and 3 01/10/12 01/06/13
Design, construct and install information boards as detailed in objective 4 01/06/13 01/06/13
Project up and running 01/06/12 01/06/13

 

Depending on the amount of funding available, subject to the minimum requirement of £25,000, the project activities can be phased over several years.

 

 

 

 

Ongoing Maintenance and meeting the costs

After the purchase of the land and setting up of the Heritage Park (the extent of works subject to the initial project funding) the ongoing maintenance work will be managed by Shotley Parish Council.

Community Volunteers will do the work free of charge (pruning, litter picking, path weeding etc) with the village warden occasionally doing some work paid for by the Parish Council.

 

Where some costs will be incurred, (e.g. specialist tree work), funds will be available from ongoing fundraising by the Volunteer Community Group (already established for the erosion protection project and picnic area renovation during 2010 and 2011). This group has successfully raised approximately £1500 per annum from community fundraising for the last three years and this will continue.

Locally sourced ‘Shotley Heritage Park’ merchandise such as T shirts, Baseball Caps, Calendars, Coffee Mugs etc will be sold to the public from local shops, and profits used to help fund maintenance work once the initial project has been completed.

 

If necessary Shotley Parish Council will fund work subject to it’s available budget, as it does for recreational facilities it already owns and is responsible for (e.g. two children’s play areas, a football field and tennis courts).

 

In the experience of many of the people already involved in woodland and recreational area volunteer work, there are little costs involved in ongoing maintenance, the biggest ‘cost’ is people and their time.