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Tuesday 11th May

The Harold Hill and Harold Wood Area Cttee* meets tonight to discuss the agenda item below. Unfortunately The Friends of Dagnam Park were not informed of this meeting until 11 o clock this morning (by a Gazette reporter) Since then the report has been emailed to me and you can read it for yourself below. It not an auspicious start for a consultation process to fail to notify the main local group involved but I accept we were an unintentional omission.

The report itself does not seem to be contentious, in fact it proposes to consult on much of what the FODP has argued for, though there is no mention of the surrounding set aside farmland which we believe should be included in the Nature Reserve. All of this land is currently owned by the council, we believe that to sell this land would mean losing control of it which could very easily lead to another Hogbar Farm situation. With the council being forced to spend huge amounts in legal fees simply to prevent planning contraventions. The Council never owned the Hogbar Farm land and were never in a position to avoid the planning contravention. They do own the land around the park and it would be astonishing if they were to decide to sell it off.

It seems that the proposal has all party support and that bodes well for the future. It will be a strange irony if a Conservative Council creates an enlarged nature reserve in Dagnam Park when here on Harold Hill we have voted for Labour councillors at every election since 1951.

The Friends will obviously be putting forward the group's view but that certainly should not prevent all local people making their voices heard. If you have a point to make give me a ring or email; Del Smith 01708 375555..... ... delsmith444@btinternet.com

* These area Committees are run by the council. Havering is divided into areas and each area meets every couple of months or so to discuss local issues.

Harold Hill and Harold Wood Area Committee 11 May 2004

REPORT OF THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE

SUBJECT: Local Nature Reserve Status for Dagnam Park and Duck Wood

WARD: Gooshays

SUMMARY

On the 5th January 2004 the Council appointed a Wildspace Community Liaison Officer (CLO). This post has been funded by English Nature and the Cleanaway Havering Riverside Trust with the purpose of working with the community to declare Reserves within the borough. As part of the funding conditions the first reserve has to be declared within eight months of the appointment of the CLO. This report describes the first steps to declaring Dagnam Park and Duck Wood a Local Nature Reserve and seeks the Committee's views and endorsement for the proposal.

RECOMMENDATION

1. That the Area Committee gives its views on the proposal to declare Dagnam Park and Duck Wood a Local Nature Reserve and gives its endorsement to a programme of public consultation and participation leading to the declaration by Cabinet in the autumn of 2004.

REPORT DETAIL

Background

•  As part of the UK wide Wildspace Scheme English Nature has funded various Wildspace Community Liaison Officer posts around the Country. The purpose of these posts is to arrange for declaration of Local Nature Reserves (LNR) in conjunction with English Nature's recommendation of having a minimum of 1 hectare of LNR for every 1,000 population. English Nature give preference to LNR declaration in regeneration areas in order to increase opportunity for access to areas of nature conservation interest.

•  LNR's play an important part in Local Biodiversity Action Plans and can tie in with agenda 21 programmes. In 1994 the importance of LNR's was strengthened by their specific mention in Objective 16 of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan - "Encourage local planning authorities to make reasonable provision for Local Nature Reserves and natural green spaces in local plans". In declaring an LNR the council accepts a responsibility to ensure that the sites special interest is maintained. LNR declaration can also be useful in obtaining funding to help administer these sites.

•  Following a successful bid to the Wildspace programme Havering has now employed a Community Liaison Officer whose role is to work with local communities for the next two years to declare a number of LNRs. The bid for funding described three early opportunities for LNR declaration in the borough, in Harold Hill at Duck Wood (formerly a Community Nature Reserve), in Hornchurch at the Ingrebourne Marshes (part of the Ingrebourne Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest) and in Rainham at Rainham Marshes (part of the Inner Thames Marshes SSSI).

A Local Nature Reserve in Harold Hill

•  The first site being looked at is in Harold Hill at Duck Wood and also, in response to local interest, at Dagnam Park. Dagnam Park is an ideal candidate for LNR designation as it is both an historic landscape designed by Humphry Repton and has also been declared a site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation by the Greater London Authority (GLA). Duck wood is also ideal as it was declared a site of Borough Importance Grade 1 for Nature Conservation by the GLA and has the possibility to be upgraded to Metropolitan Importance due to its ancient Oaks and Hornbeams and valuable ponds for amphibians.

•  At Duck Wood the Councils Countryside Service, in partnership with the London Wildlife Trust (LWT) and local people established a Community Nature Reserve in the 1980s. LWT involvement has ceased and there is now little community involvement in the care of the area. The New Horizons environmental improvement programme again raised the profile of Duck Wood and also nearby Dagnam Park. At Dagnam Park a ‘Friends' group has recently emerged as a reaction to misuse of the Park and have been taking direct action in partnership with the Council and the Police to stop misuse and have a series of community events planned. The Friends are very keen to include Dagnam Park in any LNR declaration.

•  The designation process involves full public consultation, the writing of detailed and costed management plans and final approval by both the Councils Cabinet and English Nature. Once the designation process has been worked through and accepted by English Nature the proposal is sent to Cabinet for the designation to be ratified. The Council must also have a legal interest in land that it wishes to declare an LNR. It owns Dagnam Park and Duck Wood.

•  This report is one part of the consultation process. Other components will be a public meeting, a library exhibition, a number of local events, and generally working with the Friends of Dagnam Park to gain a sense of local ownership of the project.

•  Key to the success of a project of this kind will be its longevity. Once the initial enthusiasm has diminished it will be essential to have in place a properly resourced programme of care, which will not undermine early achievements, or the nature conservation importance of the site. The strengths of this site in this respect are that the Council already manages both locations as open spaces; there has already been substantial capital investment in improvements to the access to the two locations and, most importantly, the current strength and enthusiasm of the Friends of Dagnam Park.

Financial Implications:

•  The Wildspace CLO post is funded by English Nature and the Cleanaway Havering Riverside Trust. There is also an English nature capital allocation of £25,000 for the borough wide project which has been matched by a £15,000 allocation from the Council. Duck Wood and Dagnam Park are managed as open spaces by the Parks Service with generic budgets allocated to them for basic house keeping services such as grass cutting and litter collection. LNR declaration may open up funding opportunities from other agencies, e.g. Heritage Lottery Fund, English Nature, Environment Agency and Defra (Countryside Stewardship).

•  Each LNR management plan will contain proposals and opportunities for resourcing each site that will be presented to English Nature and Cabinet before declaration. The existing revenue budgets available for grounds maintenance for Dagnam Park and related sites will need careful reallocation to ensure that any maintenance costs are kept within prescribed limits.

Legal Implications:

•  In order to declare an LNR the Council must have a legal interest in the land. Following declaration the Council will have a duty to ensure that the

special interest of the Reserve is maintained.

•  The full legal implications of LNR declaration will be reported to Cabinet before

declaration

Human Resources Implications:

•  The current Wildspace CLO post is externally funded for 2 years. The human resource implications of LNR declaration will be addressed in the proposed management plan for each site and presented to Cabinet before declaration.

Staff Contact Richard Cottam

Designation: Wildspace Community Liaison Officer

Telephone No: 01708 432875

E-mail address richard.cottam@havering.gov.uk

STEPHEN EVANS

Chief Executive

Background Papers List

•  LB Havering bid for Wildspace funding dated 29 th November 2002

•  Letters from English Nature dated 6 th March 2003 and 12 th March 2003 agreeing Wildspace funding

•  LBH Cabinet report dated 24 th June 2003 allocating capital to Wildspace programme

Letter from English Nature dated 8 th January 2004 amending conditions attached to Wildspace project.