In developing the concept of a Brun Valley Forest Park, David Hortin from the Kirkwells team led on the identification and use of Green Infrastructure (GI). This work supported the development of Local Development Framework policies. With support from the Countryside Agency, via Green Infrastructure North West; the GI of Burnley was mapped using a geographical information system (GIS). As a result of this work, and in liaison with Burnley Council’s Greenspace and Amenities Unit, the concept of a Forest Park in the Brun Valley was put forward, linking the town to the countryside through existing woodland, parks, and a former landfill site and colliery.
To take the project forward a steering group, consisting of key stakeholders, was put together to guide the development of a masterplan, with Kirkwells staff playing key roles advising on planning policy and strategic interventions. The role also involved overseeing the work of Groundwork Pennine Lancashire who had been commissioned as consultant to develop the plan, with Mersey Forest as sub-contractors undertaking a detailed GI study of the project area.
The aim of the masterplan was to improve the functionality of the GI through the provision of increased leisure, amenity and economic opportunities. Amongst the ideas put forward were: off-road family mountain biking; improved facilities for horse riders; potential for timber production for biofuel; improved links to surrounding schools (built under the Building Schools for the Future Programme) and on-site educational use; and connectivity to surrounding infrastructure, such as cafes, pubs, visitor attractions and public transport links.
These proposals were put forward in a masterplan that was used as an initial concept to consult with wider stakeholders such as residents, schools, interest groups and business interests. Consultation was held on-site and took the form of a presentation of the proposals, followed by a series of facilitator led themed workshops to gain feedback on the proposals and encourage further ideas.
The development of the Brun Valley Forest Park is ongoing, with consultation continuing alongside implementation of agreed projects, such as path improvements and woodland management. The project has strong public support, which was achieved through early engagement, effective communication and realistic targets. Kirkwells retain an active interest in the Brun Valley Forest Park; having an office on the edge of the Forest Park we are active and regular walkers and cyclists in the area. And to prove it here is a photo of a deer Dave took. Look closely…
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