The new Ouse Washes LP Website is Live!!

Today is a very exciting day as we are finally able to share our new website with the world!

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Website screen capture home page 18 12 2014

Please pass on the message to others: www.ousewashes.org.uk

 

This website is intended to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for local people and visitors to explore the Ouse Washes Landscape:

  • Explore the Ouse Washes LP area’s tourist attractions, nature reserves and museums in more detail through our interactive Explore map;
  • Find out what’s going on in the area through our What’s on section;
  • Find out how you can get involved through our projects, events and our volunteering options in our Get Involved section
  • Find out what makes the Ouse Washes LP area special, by reading through our Discover section;
  • The Ouse News is our old WordPress blog incorporated in this new website – keep up to date of all new events, project development and information about the area though this newsreel
  • And a lot more – go on, find out for yourself!

 

Do let us know what you think about the new website – we want this to be useful for you, so please help us make things better – drop us a line through the Contact section.

 

Happy reading!

 

Press release: Press release_New website for Ouse Washes Landscape now live!

Denver Sluice Complex, one of the key hubs in the Ouse Washes Landscape area. Image: Kite Aerial Photography by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation

Denver Sluice Complex, one of the key hubs in the Ouse Washes Landscape area. Image: Kite Aerial Photography by Bill Blake Heritage Documentation

 

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River Basin Management Plan

Have your input in the River Basin Management Plans for your area – workshops planned for 11, 16, 17 and 18 December for the Middle Level, Old Bedford, Ouse, Cam and NW Norfolk catchment areas:

Water Care Partnership

The Water Framework Directive is the main driver of improvements to water quality within Europe and consists of 6 yearly cycles of planning and delivery, in England these plans are the responsibility of the Environment Agency.

The first planning and delivery cycle began in 2009 and the Environment Agency has produced their draft River Basin Management Plans for the next cycle, which will begin in 2015. This plan is currently available for consultation and the draft plan can be found at https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/ho/wfd/draft_plans/consult.

To help you do this the Environment Agency is holding a series of workshops over the next few months.  The first workshop will look at the Old Bedford and Middle Level Management Catchment on 11 December 2014, 9.30 – 1.00pm at the Environment Agency’s Denver Complex (Sluice Road, Denver, Downham Market, PE38 0EG) and you are cordially invited to come along.

In this first series of workshops the Environment…

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Conservation, Farming, Flooding: Our Natural Landscape?

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up the level from pymoor wide view Copyright Bill Blake Heritage Documentation

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Annual Conference

Wednesday 19 November 2014  – 9am – 2pm

Anyone interested in the Ouse Washes area is invited to attend the first-ever Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Conference which is taking place on Wednesday 19 November from 9am – 2pm at The Corn Exchange in St Ives, Cambridgeshire.

This conference – the first in a series of three, taking place annually – will explore the natural landscape of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area. The conference aims to provide attendees with an overview of future management challenges including issues around landscape-scale conservation, biodiversity value, agricultural importance and flood relief. A background to wetland creation schemes in the area will be given through presentations with discussion facilitated in small groups regarding the future importance of the natural landscape.

The Ouse Washes landscape area has a multitude of different uses. It has an important role in flood risk prevention; it is made up of high quality agricultural land; and its internationally-renowned nature reserves provide a vital home for wildlife. This conference will look at whether these competing uses can be reconciled and balanced whilst making the area a great place to live and work.

The Partnership aims to increase awareness of the significant natural heritage of the area. Bringing together local people and partner organisations with a range of land-use interests will promote a wider appreciation and understanding of the challenges of living and working in this ever-changing landscape.

Download the Invitation and Programme , or see depicted below: Invite p1 Invite p2 Agenda p3 Time has been allowed for opinions to be aired, giving all attendees a chance to contribute to the wider debate about the future of the Ouse Washes landscape. Change will continue to be a feature of this rapidly evolving landscape and the views and ideas generated by attendees will feed into the OWLP legacy planning work, with clear recommendations and actions coming from this conference.

St Ives Corn Exchange, the site for the first Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership’s conference. Image source: http://thecornexchange.org.uk/about-us/

To book a place, please visit: www.ousewashesconference2014.eventbrite.co.uk

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership’s central team looks forward to receiving your booking, and information if you want to book a display/ exhibit space.

Sutton Gault Day – Sunday 29th June 2014

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Abby and Mark from OWLP are attending Sutton Gault Day on Sunday 29th June 2014, looks like lots of fun – poster here

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The Ely Standard piece about last year and photos are well worth a look, please accept my apologies for the brevity of this post but I must get on and organise the fishing game, wiggly worm contest and ‘wordle’ that we are taking with us!

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Our ‘Ouse Washes’ fishing game at a local event last summer

Other blogs on the area/ events:

The Sutton area and surroundings

Other events that we are attending

The Community Heritage Funds grants that we are promoting

Our Audience Profile

LogosAs part of 2013’s development-phase works we have been trying to get a grip on who the audiences should be for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme. Here I aim to give you a better understanding of where we are with this.

Understanding our audience

Happy team. 11 peoples. Isolated.

Source: istock

The Heritage Lottery Fund’s definition of an audience is ‘a group of people with identifiable characteristics who may be involved with your heritage now or who could be involved in future’.

Understanding your audience profile is important for any organisation or business, perhaps even more so for time-limited projects such as the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme: getting the right people engaged means that the scheme can deliver more benefits, there where they are needed most.

As such, work on defining our audience has been an essential part of the commissioned Audience & Access Development work and was also a central theme at our September conference. Talking to a wide range of stakeholders has further refined our understanding.

The population in the OWLP area

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The OWLP area. Map created by Sheils Flynn for OWLP. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2013 – not to be reproduced

The resident population within the OWLP area is approximately 33,000; 95% of the population is white British. In addition, the surrounding market towns and cities of Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, Chatteris, March, St Ives, Huntingdon and Cambridge have a collective resident population of c237,000.

Who are we targeting?

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme is directed at all people living in, working in and visiting the Ouse Washes LP area and its surrounding communities. Realistically, though, we will have to focus our work – hence:

Our Audience Profile

What has come out of all our research? Well, for one, we have been able to identify eight key audience types:Audience Profile
Most people living in or around the OWLP area belong to at least one of these categories. If you want to know more about each audience type, their specific needs and how the OWLP will target each group, see this document: Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme_Target Audience

Below are a few quotes taken from this document which we have received from people who can either be classed as belonging to or who are referring to each of these audience types, showing the wide range of knowledge, values and engagement within each group, with information about the different issues that people have highlighted.

The quotes and other information collated has provided us with a good range of baseline data against we can measure change over time in people’s perception, knowledge, use of the landscape and heritage participation [On an aside, see also this post about the perception of and values attached to the OWLP landscape].

1. People who are uninspired by the landscape:

“I don’t find it particularly attractive, certainly the lack of trees”

 “It’s flat. It seems to lack interest. There’s not much to do there”

 “You have to discover beauty – it took me a few years to realise it is really pretty”

“I think it’s magical when it floods down the Gault”

Flooding at Sutton Gault

Flooding at Sutton Gault, January 2014. Source: @SuttonIsle

2. Young People & Families:

“The old people will know about it [The Washes] but the incomers and youngsters couldn’t care less, they haven’t been educated about it”

“My children kayak on the Ouse, really enjoyable”

“The birds are lovely to see and my children love spotting the bugs and lizards. It’s great to walk for a few minutes from my house and I’m in the countryside”

Walkers - Anthea Abbott and family - permissions granted

Family enjoying their day out at RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes. Image by Pete Johnstone, for Cambridgeshire ACRE

3. Incomers & New Communities:

“I don’t think many people know about [the Ouse Washes]. I didn’t know a thing about it until moving here a year ago”

“It [the Ouse Washes area] is a piece of green space in a country which is rapidly growing and developing”

4. Heritage Supporters:

“I love it all. The flatness with the beautiful sky-scapes. The history. The waterways”

“I enjoy finding out about the history of places”

“I come up here [Fen Drayton Lakes] 365 days a year”

Walkers - Ellie and Simon Trigg - permission granted

Enjoying the countryside. Image by Pete Johnstone, for Cambridgeshire ACRE

5. Farmers and landowners:

“On the whole the less visitors the better – less damage to the wildlife”

“[…]The landscape looks very much like private  land used for agricultural or other purposes and so it is not clear where we  can get out of a vehicle or other and roam without fear of being challenged”

River Great Ouse

Cattle along the Ouse, near Denver. Image by Pete Johnstone, for Cambridgeshire ACRE

6. Deprived Communities:

“We could have a nice circular walk that takes you down to the river and this would help relieve the stresses of modern life”

“It is very isolated unless you have a car”

7. Migrant Communities:

“I like the Englishness of the countryside [..]”

“Vermuyden did it [created the Washes] and used French prisoners of war”

8. Visitors:

“Denver Sluice is a lovely place to take visitors as part of a tour of the local area, e.g.,
including Denver Mill, Denver Church and the pub”

“The washes needs to be made much more distinctive so you know when you are in the Ouse Washes […] It should be a local ‘brand’ that all local people are proud of and identify with”

“I think it is unique but it would be far better if people knew about it and opening up would attract more people”

Denver Windmill. Image: Cambridgeshire ACRE

What do you think about this?

Are we on the right track, or would there still be room for improvement? let us know what you think – Thanks.

Related posts:

The new OWLP Landscape Boundary

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As part of the development phase works we have reconsidered the boundary for the OWLP scheme area. This was included in the work done as part of the Landscape Character Assessment , commissioned by the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership to Sheils Flynn.

Redrawing the boundary

For our stage 1 submission, back in early 2012, the boundary drawn was still relatively simple. Not anymore. Following the recent finalisation of the Landscape Character Assessment for the OWLP area and the Landscape Conservation Action Plan as part of our stage 2 submission, I can now show you the final results of this work.

First of all, spot the differences:

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Boundary as drawn for the OWLP’s stage 1 application, February 2012

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OWLP boundary as defined for the stage 2 submission, November 2013. Map created by Sheils Flynn for OWLP. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2013 – not to be reproduced.

In their comments on our stage 1 bid, the HLF considered the OWLP area boundary somewhat vague and arbitrary; despite numerous hours of discussion between partners had already gone into this.

A coherent landscape

A requirement for the stage 2 submission was, thus, to come up with a better described, understood and more coherent boundary. The new landscape boundary is based on careful consideration of a number of related factors:

  • The boundary surrounds a strongly coherent landscape. The vast majority of the OWLP landscape is below the 5 m contour line.This is a distinct landscape, with a unique history, linear waterways, significant wetlands and which plays an important role in food production, drainage and flood prevention.
  • The boundary is driven by the landscape using natural boundaries.
  • The boundary is understood by local people – as part of the community consultations held during the Audience & Access work, people were shown draft versions of the new map, to which people responded positively, as the boundary line follows local landscape features such as roads, drains and other, locally recognised landscape features.
  • The boundary reflects historic patterns of land use: the ‘territory’ associated with the Fen Isle villages, including for instance historic field patterns, droveways and outlying farmsteads, together describe historic patterns of land use and the present-day sense of community in this part of the Fens. Settlements developed on ‘islands’ of higher land in an otherwise expansive and historically marshy landscape. The most productive arable fields were concentrated on the more elevated, relatively well-drained land surrounding the villages, with pasture on seasonally water-logged meadows. The marshy fenlands, which covered vast areas of the Fen Basin, were an important economic resource, used for cutting peat, reeds and sedge and to provide a constant supply of wildfowl, fish and eels.
  • The boundary contains a relatively empty landscape, with a scatter of settlements on the areas of higher land on and around the edge; relatively well-drained soils fringe the low-lying fen that was the focus of the Ouse Washes drainage scheme. The settlements function as individual gateways to the central, lower landscape.
  • The boundary coincides with the historic road pattern: the alignment of roads and causewayed tracks connects the villages and forms a loose ring around the Ouse Washes.
  • The boundary contains an internationally significant wetland landscape: recent wetland and fen restoration projects and opportunities for new wetlands as part of the Great Ouse Wetland and Fens Wetland Vision projects contribute to the international value of the Ouse Washes and have the potential to provide superb opportunities for public access, recreation and environmental education.

Crossing multiple boundaries

The OWLP area covers two Counties (Cambridgeshire and Norfolk), five different Districts (Kings Lynn & West Norfolk BC, Fenland DC, East Cambridgeshire DC, Huntingdonshire DC and South Cambridgeshire DC) and no less than 29 Parishes.

In the process of redefining the boundary for the OWLP landscape, the total area increased from 199 km2 at the stage 1 bid to 243 km2 now, stretching for 48.5 km between Denver and Downham Market at the northern end and Fen Drayton and St Ives to its south.

The OWLP residents

The OWLP area contains 25 villages/settlements which are either fully or partially within, or directly abutting the area’s boundary:

  • In Norfolk these are Denver, Salters Lode, Fordham, Nordelph, Ten Mile Bank, Welney, Tipps End and Lakes End.
  • The Cambridgeshire settlements are Manea, Pymoor, Wardy Hill, Coveney, Witcham, Mepal, Sutton, Earith, Aldreth, Over, Swavesey, Fen Drayton, Holywell, Needingworth, Bluntisham, Colne and Somersham.
  • Close by are also the settlements of Hemingford Grey, Willingham, Haddenham and Little Downham (Cambridgeshire) and Hilgay (Norfolk).

The resident population of the LP area is 33,010. Outside the Ouse Washes LP area the neighbouring towns within a c10km zone are Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, Chatteris, March, St Ives, Huntingdon and Cambridge; they have a collective resident population of 236,688. The OWLP scheme’s delivery phase focuses on both the local residents and market town residents.

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Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area – Location Map. Map created by Sheils Flynn for OWLP. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2013 – not to be reproduced.

Click on the above map (X 2) to zoom in; the maps displayed here can also be viewed in our Resources section.

What do you think?

What do you think? Does this boundary indeed reflect local people’s perceptions of what makes a coherent landscape? Let me know your thoughts – click on the balloon at the top to leave a comment, or contact me directly. Thank you.

 

Related Posts:

 

Ouse Washes LP Conference: a great success

Heritage Lottery FundLast week Thursday the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP) scheme held its first and long-awaited conference. This event was very well attended: with over 60 people we filled up The Maltings in Ely and had some very lively discussions going.

I would, first of all, like to thank everybody who attended. The good number and mixture of representatives from a wide range of local authorities, agencies, charities and community groups and other organisations meant that the two workshops held were very productive.

The two main presentations – by Kate Collins (Sheils Flynn) presenting the results of the Landscape Character Assessment for the area, and Rachael Brown (Cambridgeshire ACRE) those of the Audience & Access Planning work done – were also very well received, judging by the comments made on the day.

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Conference 5 September 2013: ‘Finding Character and Audiences’

Good feedback given

Cambridgeshire ACRE has been able to organise this event thanks to the excellent help before and during the day given by our four summer placement volunteers (Peter, Anna, Jessica and Chris). The overall impression left by the participants in the feedback forms was that they found this event useful and informative; see e.g. the below graph (where 1 means poor and 5 means excellent):

Picture for blog conference

Some quotes from the audience:

Really well structured and organised event. Excellent balance between presentations; thank you.

The presentations gave an excellent base for the workshops to explore. Good networking and sharing ideas.

Interesting presentations. Fascinating interactions round the table, much better than just being talked to. Everyone here has different interest /views

Useful information coming out of the day

We are currently going through the mountain of information written down during the workshops, as comments left on the feedback sheets, display comments sheets or on the logo voting sheets. Although all information will also be collated in a report later this month, to give you a bit of an understanding of what has come out of the conference, below are a few bite-sized bits of information:

* Some key barriers to access were identified: most people agreed that the following barriers to access, engagement and learning should be the primary barriers to be addressed through the OWLP scheme:

  • Limited provision of information about the landscape and its heritage;
  • Lack of coherent tourism promotion;
  • Lack of sufficient and varied tourism attractions & amenities in the area;
  • Limited public access points to the landscape.

* The workshops also highlighted some additional barriers, in particular:

  • Barriers for water recreation is limited throughout the area (e.g., access to water; slipways);
  • There are some linear walking and cycling routes, but people prefer and have a clear need for more circular routes close to their settlements;
  • Need for the creation of education packs for local schools about the heritage of the area, to be created in close co-operation with teachers.

A good number of ideas came forward how to address these barriers, with the creation of stronger links with education providers and local tourism business providers and local empowerment through skills training and other initiatives coming out clearly.

Leaving a sustainable legacy

The second workshop, where people provided ideas to ensure a sustainable legacy for the OWLP scheme also provided us ample food for thought. A good number of suggestions have been highlighted by people what the various organisations could bring to the partnership, helping the scheme to develop and work towards a sustainable legacy.

The central team and the OWLP partnership as a whole will take all ideas into account: there certainly is enough there for us to follow up on and to guide the further development of this exciting project through the next few years.

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Lively discussions during the workshops