Choosing the best wildlife sites in Brighton and Hove

(A Guest post by council ecologist Mathew Thomas)

Dear Local Action Team,

I am writing to invite Local Action Teams in Brighton and Hove to take part in choosing the best wildlife sites in Brighton and Hove. Once chosen, these sites will be protected from development and will be the focus for future conservation work.

Over the past couple of years, around 150 potential sites in Brighton and Hove have been visited and surveyed in detail, both in the inner urban area and surrounding countryside. As well as recording important species and habitats, the surveys have taken account of the value of local green spaces as places simply to walk and enjoy nature.

The next stage is for the compiled survey information to be presented to selection panels. The panels will assess each site against pre-agreed criteria and decide whether they should be formally recognised as a ‘Local Wildlife Site’. The panels will also be able to recommend sites to go forward for designation as Local Nature Reserves, which are protected by law.

It is important that the selection panels take full account of local knowledge, views and values, as well as more ‘scientific’ criteria, so you do not have to be an acknowledged expert in a particular species or habitat to be involved (although acknowledged experts are very welcome too!).

The selection panels take place at the following times and venues:

  • 7pm, Tuesday 23rd April, Portslade Town Hall, Victoria Road, Brighton, BN41 1YF (for the Hove, Mile Oak and Portslade areas).
  • 7pm, Monday 29th April, Saltdean Community Centre, Saltdean Park Road, Saltdean, BN2 8SP (for east Brighton, Rottingdean and Saltdean).
  • 7pm, Tuesday 30th April, Brighton Town Hall, Bartholomews, Brighton, BN1 1JA (for central Brighton, Wild Park and farmland to the north).

If you, or a member of your Local Action Team would like to attend one or more of the selection panels, please reply to me by e-mail, indicating which (or all) panel meetings you would like to attend.(see below for contact)

Each selection panel is limited to 20 people and places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, so please reply promptly to secure your place. All confirmed panel members will receive more information shortly.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of the SNCI project, please contact me by e-mail or on 01273 292371.

Thank you for your interest

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Thomas

Ecologist

Brighton & Hove City Council

Email: matthew.thomas@brighton-hove.gov.uk

 

 

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The Level : Project Update March 2012

(A Guest Post by Linda Anglin who manages the Council Parks Projects Team)

The Level Project Update March 2012

Start of the Delivery Phase: I hope everyone is enjoying this lovely spring sunshine. Since our last update announcing the fantastic news that the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund ‘Parks for People’ bid was successful, we have been busy getting the project team in place and ready to start the delivery phase of the project. I’m happy therefore to welcome onto the project team Gill Thompson and Claire Morgan. Gill will be making sure the Capital Works programme is delivered as planned and Claire, who starts on 16 April, will be working with local residents and community groups to deliver the Activity Plan actions.

We have also completed the tender process for the Lead Landscape Architect and I’m pleased to report that Land Use Consultants will continue working with us to complete this final stage of the project. They have commenced the next stage of the design process, which is drawing up detailed specification drawings which are needed for the construction tender.

The timetable for the capital works is as follows:

  • Detailed specification February 2012 to April 2012
  • Preparation of tender documents May 2012 to June 2012
  • Issue construction tender End of June 2012
  • Evaluate and appoint successful contractor September 2012
  • Build Phase October 2012 to June 2013

We won’t have an agreed build programme until the contractors have been appointed. However, due to the extent of work and to ensure safety on-site during construction, it’s likely that the south end will be closed for the majority of the time which is why we are scheduling the work to be carried out over the winter season. I’ll be able to give a more detailed build plan in the Autumn once the build contractors have been appointed.

Playground

A design concept is being prepared for the new playground and we will be holding consultation exhibitions on The Level in March and April to get feedback from children and their parents/guardians. The consultation exhibition dates are at the end of this newsletter.

 Skatepark

Work has commenced on the design for the new skatepark, and we will be holding consultation exhibitions at the same time as the Playgrounds ones noted above. I’ve attached a separate update for the skatepark project which includes more details.

Dogs welcome areas

Concerns about dogs not under control and dog mess and having dog free areas were issues raised by residents during the consultation. However, it is recognised that responsible dog walkers provide a valuable service by providing year round natural surveillance in the park, especially during dark mornings and evenings. While it is intended that all grass areas in the south end and the fountain area are completely dog free, dog owners have expressed an interest in allowing dogs on leads on the paths which lead through the south end. We could run a short pilot to see if this would work but it would need the support and help from dog owners to help us promote and enforce this. If this is something you would like to help with, please let us know. We will also be getting people’s views on this at the consultation exhibitions being held for the playground and skatepark.

Digital Story Telling Project

In May, Fiona will be launching the digital story telling project to invite anyone with an interest in The Level’s history to get involved with this exciting project. We believe that this will bring further depth and context to the more recent history of the park; by engaging volunteers to assist with the research and collection of materials about The Levels unique history the information will be more accessible to the local community. Our primary interest is with the heritage of the Level, the 1930’s design and the historic community use of The Level both in centuries past and decade by decade in more recent times. We will be exploring the following themes through further research and digital story telling techniques, e.g. sound and video recording, photographs, documents and oral history.

  • The playground and the use of The Level for play and recreation
  • Community Celebrations and regular events
  • WW2
  • Peace and Protest
  • Prohibitionists rallies and the underworld of the park
  • The skatepark and skatepark competitions

If you are interested in volunteering you will be asked to attend a number of training sessions; these will provide training on how to use local research facilities, how to establish a system of recording the archives that have been examined and how to collate and catalogue materials. You will be given the opportunity to choose a theme that is of interest to research further your self. Volunteers will meet as a group regularly to talk about what they have found, how their findings fit within The Level history timeline and discuss the best way to interpret the findings. Let us know if you are interested; contact details are at end of this update letter.

Communities of The Level

We said last time that we would be getting in touch with local community groups to start discussing how they wanted to be involved in the project. This has been delayed while we get the Activity Project Officer in place and we hope to get back to you by the end of April.

Art Installation in the centre of the north lawns

A brief has now been prepared to recruit an artist to work with us. This will be used to invite expressions of interest. Representatives from a few of the local community groups will be invited to sit on the decision panel. As part of the brief, we would be asking the successful artist to work with the local community to design the art installation. More details will be available in May.

 Dates for Your Diary

Bluebell Planting with the Rangers: Wednesday 28 March 3.30 to 5 pm

Gloves and tools supplied and accompanied children welcome. Meet at the crossroads in the north half of The Level. For more information, please contact the Park Rangers on 01273 292929 or email Cityparks@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Consultation Exhibitions on The Level for the skatepark and playground:

Saturday 31 March, Tuesday 3 April and Monday 16 April:

  • 11 am to 2 pm
  • 11 am to 1 pm
  • 3 pm to 6 pm

Contact Us:

Find out more information by logging on to www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/thelevel Email us at parksprojects@brighton-hove.gov.uk with any ideas and suggestions. If you do not have access to the internet, we are happy to send you information by post. Please write to us at Brighton & Hove City Council, Parks Projects Team,Hollingdean Depot, Upper Hollingdean Road, Brighton BN1 7GA or call us on 01273 292929.

The Level Skatepark Project Update March 2012

The Project & Project Team: The City Parks Project Team working with Sports Development and the Brighton & Hove Skateparks Association (BHSA) are leading on the skatepark project, which is an important aspect of the larger Restoration Project for The Level. The fact that the two schemes have now over-lapped in timescale is completely coincidental, however it is hoped that potential investors will gain renewed confidence from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund investment and the knowledge that the rest of the parks regeneration is shortly to commence.

Freestyle Skateparks will be designing and building the new skatepark. They were appointed in December 2011 following a competitive tender process. A BHSA representative was included in the evaluation panel for this process.

Lewes & Co Planning South East Limited have been appointed to help prepare the planning application for the new skatepark. They will ensure that the appropriate consultation is undertaken and that any issues raised are addressed at the earliest possible opportunity during the design process.

To ensure its integration into the rest of the park, the Landscape Architects for the Restoration Project, Land Use Consultants, will also work closely with Freestyle to ensure appropriate boundary treatment and landscaping.

Commitment by the council

Approval for the Master Plan for the whole park was granted in the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Cabinet Members Meeting on the 5th July 2011. This confirmed the location of the new skatepark and committed £150,000 towards the new skatepark, made up of £97,000 S106 developer’s contributions and £53,000 from council budget. The new skatepark will be around 1400m² and it is estimated to cost around £350,000. We will be aiming to raise the additional funding required through grants and sponsorship.

Design Process

Freestyle has had a number of meetings with the BHSA to discuss initial design ideas in order to develop a design which best meets the requirements of skaters and BMXers and provides for all levels of experience. They have also been working with LUC on the boundaries, landscaping, etc to ensure a thorough and cohesive design is presented for consultation by the BHSA. All the feedback received from local residents and other park users during the consultation and engagement undertaken last year for the whole park has being taken into account when designing the new skatepark. The proposed design will be consulted on between 31 March and 25 April and you can view the designs and give your feedback in the following ways:

Consultation Exhibitions on The Level: Come along to meet the design team, view the design and complete a questionnaire:

  • Saturday 31 March 11 am to 2 pm
  • Tuesday 3 April 11 am to 1 pm (near the Playbus)
  • Monday 16 April 3 pm to 6 pm

Consultation Portal: Log on to http://consult.brighton-hove.gov.uk/portal to view the design and complete a questionnaire on line.

Web Site: The design will also be available to view on the council website www.brightonhove.gov.uk/thelevel and BHSA website www.bhsa.org.

By post: If you are not able to attend any of the exhibitions or you do not have access to the internet, we are happy to send you information by post. Please write to us at Brighton & Hove City Council, Parks Projects Team, Hollingdean Depot, Upper Hollingdean Road, Brighton BN1 7GA or call us on 01273 292929

Planning & Funding

After the consultation period has been completed and the design has been finalised, a Planning Application will be prepared and submitted to the Planning Authority. This will be around May this year and will take between 8 to 12 weeks before a decision is made. Planning permission will be sought for the full 1400m² skatepark. Following that, grant funding bids will be prepared and submitted. This is likely to include bids for sponsorship from business as well as bids to funding bodies such as Veolia and Sport England. We cannot confirm exactly which grants we will be going for as it will depend on whether or not we have any success with business sponsorship and also what grants are available at the time. We are applying for planning permission before we make any applications as some funding bodies require this to be done before they would consider grant applications.It is expected that the outcome of any bids will be known by the end of the year.

Building the new skatepark

Work on the new skatepark will commence in the New Year 2013. Whether we are able to build the whole skatepark in one phase or whether it needs to be built in two or more phases will depend on what additional funding we manage to secure. The exact timescale for the build is dependent on this and so cannot be confirmed at this point.

Indicative Timetable

2012

  • Jan to Apr Design and Consultation Phase
  • May Submit Planning Application
  • July Decision on Planning Application
  • July onwards Submit bids for funding
  • December Decision on funding bids

2013

  • Jan to May Build Phase

Please note these dates are provisional and may change.

The Patch February Update

(Guest post via Friends of William Clarke Park/The Patch email update)

Friends of William Clarke Park

Patch Maintenance Day

Sunday 26th February 1.00 -4.00pm

Come and join in some practical maintenance tasks to prepare the Patch for the year ahead. This was originally scheduled for 5th Feb but had to be postponed due to the snow. The forecast for this Sunday is looking dry and fairly mild, so should definately go ahead.

Join our Wildlife Group  clearing the pond, planting wild flower seeds, tidying shrub beds and repairing bird boxes and installing a ‘sparrow terrace’ – ALL WELCOME

Other maintenance work – We will also be moving a few railway sleepers and fixing them into position around the tarmac area, next to the new fence.
Also a chance for a general tidy up.  Some work will take place in the morning from 10am in case you fancy helping out earlier (look out for John & Rich).

‘PLACE THE BOX’ – at 1pm
… a consultation on where best to locate our proposed 20 x 8ft storage container our tools and events kit including a walk around suggested sites.
There are several options:
a) by the pond near the Elm Grove School fence
b) next to the Picton Street entrance
c) in the lower glade area next to Old Viaduct Court
Wherever the container goes we want to make it as discreet as possible, decorated with paint and plants.

We hope you can join us for all or part of the afternoon.

News From The Patch

Patch News Update supplied by the Friends of William Clarke Park

PATCH NEWS
 WINTER 2011
from Friends of William Clarke Park
Activity & Wildlife Day

Sunday 5th February 1.00 – 4.00pm : Come and join in some practical tasks to prepare the Patch for the year ahead. Our Wildlife Group will be clearing the pond, planting wild flower seeds, tidying shrub beds and making bird boxes – ALL WELCOME We will also be moving the remaining railway sleepers and fixing them into position around the tarmac area, now that the new fence is complete. Also a chance for a general tidy up.  Some work will take place in the morning from 10am in case you fancy helping out earlier.  Plus a game of ‘PLACE THE BOX’ at 1pm … a cosultation on where best to locate our proposed 20x8ft storage container for our tools and events kit including a walk around suggest sites.                     There are several options:
a) by the pond near the Elm Grove School fence
b) next to the Picton Street entrance
c) in the lower glade area next to Old Viaduct Court
Wherever the container goes we want to make it as discreet as possible, decorated with paint and plants.
We hope you can join us for all or part of the afternoon.

New Fence : The Veolia Traust has funded a new fence to prevent balls going over into neighbouring Old Viaduct Court flats for older people on Hartington Road.  The barrier will ease tensions which have existed for many years resulting form people going into the grounds to retrieve wayward footballs. Veolia contributed £4,320 toward £4,520 cost. The fence is made from netting and is designed to be unobtrusive on the eye and quiet when struck by a ball.

Love Your Patch  – Fence opening event + games galore!

Tue 14 Feb Noon – 3pm

An opening event will take place on Valentine’s Day as part of a ‘Love Your Patch!’ games day supported by Groundwork and their Cadbury Spots v Stripes games programme. Rounds  of  volley ball. basket ball and football will test out the effectiveness of the partition

Transforming our Patch

Britvic has awarded £5,000 to support restoration of the grass across the Patch as part of a national programme called, appropriately enough, ‘Transform Your Patch’.  
The plan will involve rotorvating 1,000 square metres, importing dozens of tons of topsoil and then leveling and turfing.  
We hope to have the work completed in good time for the summer and especially for school  sports days in this Olympic year. Three schools use the patch – Elm Grove, St Martin’s and  Fairlight – with a total of 1,000 children. The quality of the grass has deteriorated over many years becoming patchy, rocky and uneven, posing a risk as well as a bit of an eyesore. We will announce further details soon and hope that volunteers as well as  will be able to help out.
The  Council’s City Parks team and the charity Groundwork will also suppoirt the work.
PatchFest 2012 + Spring in the Patch Planning Meeting Thursday 23rd February 7.30pm  at The Pub With No Name, Southover St (tbc)
Help us make our 8th PatchFest community festival (on Sat 7th July, 1-9pm) be as fantastic as ever.  We need to divi up a load of tasks and agree what ingredients we want mixed into this year’s event.
We also need to make plans for Spring in the Patch on Sunday 15th April (yes Marathon day – we know), 1-5pm
All welcome