Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership successful in first stage bid to HLF

Cambridgeshire ACRE has received an earmarked first-round pass of £995,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through its Landscape Partnership (LP) programme for the Ouse Washes area, it was announced today. The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership aims to work with a wide range of partners to improve community interaction and participation to maintain the areas inherent beauty, natural and built heritage assets and international importance so that it is safeguarded for the future.

Development funding of £90,500 is included in this amount to help Cambridgeshire ACRE progress their plans to apply for the full grant at a later date.

The Landscape Partnership will undertake conservation work on the assets of the area; tell the story of the history of the landscape and how it has been managed; encourage local people to get involved in managing the area today; encourage visitors and local people to learn about and appreciate the landscape; and improve the skills of local people by providing volunteering opportunities and work placements.

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area stretches 48.5km between Fen Drayton Lakes and Downham Market. The main features include the Old and the New Bedford Rivers, and the area of wet grassland 20 miles (32 km) long between them. This washland is internationally important for the large populations of birds which feed on it in winter. The area includes the well-established Welney and Ouse Fen nature reserves, and newer reserves such as Fen Drayton Lakes. The rural communities within the area have a rich archaeological and industrial heritage. The history associated with the land drainage: riots, disputes, disasters and engineering successes are unique to this area.

Kirsten Bennett from Cambridgeshire ACRE said:

We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. The Ouse Washes may not be ‘pretty’ in a picture-postcard sense but they have a unique charm of their own. Their cultural and built heritage needs to be celebrated and understood, both by those who live and work here and those who come to visit the area. This funding will allow us to work with local people and organisations to make this happen. As the Rural Community Council for Cambridgeshire, we feel privileged to be leading the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership.

Explaining the importance of HLF’s support, Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said:

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership is designed to help protect and celebrate a wonderful and distinctive part of East Anglia. This landscape is very much shaped by water flow – sometimes not enough and at the moment a little too much! With the Heritage Lottery Fund’s initial support the scheme can start developing work to promote the area as a tourist destination whilst also encouraging local communities to learn more about its history and how best to conserve and manage it for the future.

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