Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme gets the green light

The Scheme’s lead partner, Cambridgeshire ACRE, met with the Heritage Lottery Fund on 13 September and was given the ‘green light’ to start work.

Part of the meeting was to receive feedback on the Stage 1 submission and we wanted to share an extract from the HLF’s expert advisor’s recommendation report:

I was very impressed with this project, both in terms of the submission document and the people and places we visited… Because of the compelling need and opportunity the LPS presents, the significant heritage, learning and participation benefits and the very strong project partnership and Vision,… I strongly recommend this project for HLF funding. I have seen few better Stage 1 LPS submissions.

Thanks again to all partners for getting us to this stage of the Scheme’s development.

The next task is to recruit a Programme Manager who can lead on the development of the Landscape Conservation Action Plan. Cambridgeshire ACRE is advertising this role on its website: http://www.cambsacre.org.uk/jobs.php

It’s a great opportunity for the right countryside professional so if you know anyone who might be interested in applying for the role, please share this link with them. The closing date for applications is 31 October 2012.

We’ll keep everyone abreast of developments via the blog.

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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.

Ouse Washes: The Heart of the Fens

At the meeting on Friday the partnership agreed to change the name of LP to “Ouse Washes: The Heart of the Fens”. Partnership members felt the word ‘heart’ was more appropriate due to the unique and important role the Bedford Levels play in the draining of the Fens.

Why the Ouse Washes?

We are just starting to develop the first round Landscape Partnership (LP) application building on the excellent work done by partners to make the Expression of Interest successful. As the partnership evolves, over the next weeks, it is important to remember why this area of Fenland has been chosen to centre a LP on. There are many reasons, one being it has so much to offer, and much of this rich, internationally important heritage is currently unknown and unexplored. 

This is a partnership approach and we have been working to raising awareness and gain support amongst key partners such as local authorities, parish councils and community/voluntary groups in the surrounding market towns and villages. It is hoped that LP will support the community stewardship of local assets such as historic places of worship, nature reserves, water resources and footpaths. We would want to leave a legacy of community engagement, with key partners and communities working together to co-produce effective conservation management, green space access, climate change mitigation and flood resilience schemes. This will protect and enhance the enjoyment and understand of the Ouse Washes in the future.

We would really like to hear from you – particularly your innovative project ideas that fit the overall aims of this LP. The success of the programme will be based around a portfolio of smaller projects, which together will provide long-term social, economic and environmental benefits for this rural area.

Welcome

Welcome to the new blog for the Ouse Washes: Gateway to the Fens Landscape Partnership Scheme.

We’ve set this blog up so that anyone associated with or interested in the Scheme can keep up to date with its progress as we develop it from a raw idea into a fully thought-out application ready for submission to the Heritage Lottery Fund in February 2012.

We hope you will take the opportunity to visit the other pages on this site which will tell you about why we think the Ouse Washes deserve to be conserved, celebrated and made more accessible both to people who live locally and visitors to the area.

If you have any thoughts on this site or on the Landscape Partnership Scheme itself then please feel free to reply or comment on posts. We’d be delighted to hear from you and will endeavour to use feedback provided to improve this site or to feed into our application development work.