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Marlingford comes together to protect green space

PUBLISHED: 17:00 08 October 2011

Cath Montague, right, with Jean Austen in the village nature reserve at Marlingford.; Photo: Bill Smith

Cath Montague, right, with Jean Austen in the village nature reserve at Marlingford.; Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

Efforts are under way to ensure that a leafy spot in the heart of a village west of Norwich is preserved for the benefit of the community.

A patch of land in the centre of Marlingford is currently at the centre of attempts by the those who know it best to create a Local Nature Reserve, with all the official recognition that this would bring.

One of those at the centre of the long-term effort is Cath Montague, of Barford Road. She said: “We wanted to protect the village from the possibility that it could be used for other purposes than a conservation area, which is what we call it.”

The space, which measures five acres, is part woodland and part meadow, with a play area for children that was also set up by parents and residents in the area. A recent survey counted among 21 species of butterflies within its confines.

Ms Montague commented that despite the prevalence of surrounding fields and countryside, much of it was privately owned, leaving a dearth of places for people to enjoy nature and get some exercise.

With Local Development Framework plans potentially making space for new homes in the future, such protection was even more necessary, she added.

“The centre of the village is potentially very vulnerable in terms of housing, and it’s currently a place where people are able to walk their dogs and take their children outside of their own back gardens.

“Apart from the pub there’s no real communal area, so it’s also a place where people meet one another. It’s the green lung of the village, really.”

As part of efforts to be given the status, which would see the space officially recognised, a management plan has been drawn up spelling out long term preservation efforts for the land.

Currently the proposals are being looked at by South Norfolk Council, who after consulting with Natural England will decide over the viability of making it a reserve.

Ms Montague said it was a case of “fingers crossed and asking again and again” as to how things were proceeding. Another person keen to see the site retained is Marlingford and Colton Parish Council chairman Dr David Waldon, who said: “It’s important that the space is given recognition and an official status and it’s a pleasant space, and one that’s been maintainted through the effort of volunteers.”

•Are you helping create a communal space? Contact reporter John Owens on 01603 772439 or email john.owens@archant.co.uk.

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