Statement on Chris Packham's opposition comments
The Trust has been aware of celebrity naturalist, Chris Packham’s interest in our proposals for a new activity centre at Nene Park for some time. We take all responses on board and have considered his comments closely.
We appreciate the great love many have for Nene Park and Ferry Meadows, particularly the nature that finds a home here and understand it is this passion that has spurred Chris to action. From the outset of this project we have considered the environment and setting of the proposals, consulting with landscape designers, ecologists and tree specialists in surveying the current environment and designing our proposals. These assessments have considered a wide area and this project does not stand alone but is part of a wider vision for Nene Park set out in the Nene Park Masterplan.
Nene Park is an area for people to enjoy alongside being a haven for wildlife. This is perfectly exhibited by our wetland meadows restoration project completed last year, in which 70 acres of meadows have been improved for wildlife, whilst also creating opportunities for the public to get closer to nature and enjoy the meadows with improved walking routes. The proposed activity centre and car park will be based on just two acres of Nene Park, which covers a total of 1725 acres of green space in Peterborough.
Our answers to some common concerns:
Will trees be removed as part of this proposal?
A small number of trees will be removed and these will be replaced with more than double that number of large specimens, which we will nurture and maintain to maturity. This is alongside ongoing and extensive tree planting being carried out across the Park by Trust staff, volunteers and the wider community.
How will the project affect the natural habitat?
The proposed activity centre will be built on the existing Lakeside car park and the new proposed permeable car park will be built on a small area of Oak Meadow, which is not a species-rich or ancient meadow.
Our ecological survey covers all the area included in the proposals including the meadow, treed areas and car park. We have done further work creating an external lighting strategy reviewed by our own and the authority’s ecologist to ensure light levels do not adversely affect bats.
The Trust has done a lot of work to improve the species diversity across the entire park. Surrounding landscaping to the Activity Centre will be extremely species-rich, offering a real centre of relaxation and interest for visitors and a feast for pollinators.
Why have we chosen this location?
Our proposed site for the new activity centre is down by an existing hub of activity at Lakeside. Our visitors come to Nene Park for a variety of different activities – whether that’s dog walking, education activities, watersports, fishing, cycling or running – activity is a central theme to all of that. Nene Park stretches from close to the city centre out to Wansford and within this there are areas which are kept specifically for quiet enjoyment and other areas for more active uses. We are very keen to maintain that peaceful refuge which many of our visitors come to enjoy at Ferry Meadows, which is why all of this activity is being contained to one area of the Park.
This is a proposal for Nene Park Trust, not Peterborough City Council, therefore other locations outside of the Park boundaries are not ours to consider.
Why do we need this activity centre in the Park?
Typically, Nene Park is quieter during the winter months, but our hope is that a new indoor activity centre will encourage visitors year-round, in all weathers. The development of the new centre forms part of our commitment to improve the Park, allowing us to better deliver on our charitable objectives, and to offer a unique fitness experience to our visitors.
When will a planning decision be made?
The Peterborough City Council planning meeting will not be until mid February or mid March.