Rural Community Action Nottinghamshire have became landowners for the first time in the organisations history following the purchase of 220 acres of land at Newstead/Annesley. The land which is former colliery tips was purchased with a grant from Greater Nottingham Partnership and is the first step in the plan to create Newstead and Annesley Country Park.
Located between Newstead Village and Newstead Abbey Park the site was initially identified by members of the CAST Project who have been looking for a base with existing lakes from which to operate. The Pit Tips fit the bill perfectly being 500 yards from the RCAN offices and having excellent road and rail links with the close proximity of the M1 and a Robin Hood Line railway station in Newstead Village.
Initial enquiries were around the purchase of some of the lakes on the site but when it became clear that the owners wanted to sell it as one lot staff at RCAN and CAST got their heads together and came up with a range of ideas which would see the development of a plan to create a sustainable country park. The proposals have been supported by a wide range of partner agencies particularly local MP Paddy Tipping, County and District Councils, local residents, Future Newstead who are delivering the Parish plan and many voluntary sector agencies involved in the countryside.
An abundance of ideas came forward but the brief was that they had to fit with key criteria: Projects would aim to bring in an income and be financially sustainable in themselves while making a contribution to the running costs of the park. Any ideas would fit with public access, be beneficial to the local community and be sympathetic to the needs of the abundant wildlife on the site as well as fit with the aims of the Newstead Parish Plan.
Some of the ideas which will be moved forward include:
Diversify CAST to work with young people and adults through countryside management and arts
Creation of a county sculpture park
Outdoor music and theatre events
Development of fishing lakes
Development of a fish farm
Facilities for bird watching and nature walks
Link with Newstead Abbey and the Tourism agenda
Staff at RCAN and CAST are really looking forward to creating a first class environmental and community facility which will provide a flagship for other rural communities looking to get involved in their local landscape.