Next steps for rewilding Allestree Park
Published: 26 July 2022
More than 2,000 people have given their views and ideas about how Allestree Park could look when it’s transformed into the UK’s largest urban rewilding space.
Next week the project takes a significant step forward as the Derby City Council’s Cabinet discusses the results of a 12-week public consultation, and sets the way for what happens next.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust worked with Derby City Council and the University of Derby to present a variety of ideas for rewilding. The proposals ranged from passive rewilding with little or no intervention to commercial rewilding which would require infrastructure and significant financial investment. Other ideas included the creation of new habitats such as woodlands, grasslands, wetlands and scrubland, the creation of community orchards and reintroducing of key species, such as water vole, harvest mouse and tree sparrow.
At their meeting on Wednesday 3 August, the Council’s Cabinet will be asked to discuss the results of the consultation and to accept Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s ‘Vision for Community Rewilding at Allestree Park’.
The consultation, held on the Council’s Let’s Talk Derby website and through events, invited members of the public to give their views through a formal survey, quick, monthly polls and forums. In total, 2,065 people took part. Some of the key findings from the consultation include:
- Community Rewilding is supported by the majority of respondents (89%).
- 69.5% of respondents agreed supporting nature recovery in the Derby region is the most important priority.
- 51% would like to help survey and monitor the park.
- 43% would like to support reintroducing species. When asked about the proposed species to be introduced, water vole was the most popular (84%).
- There is an agreement for all the proposed habitats to be included in any rewilding, with wildflowers (89%) the most popular. Other areas suggested are more woodland and trees.
- Respondents want to see self-led nature trails (87%), wheelchair and wheeled opportunities (73%) and a visitors’ centre and/or toilets (70%).
- Interest is more divided regarding outdoor activities and treeline experiences (58% not interested, 32% interested), cycling opportunities (42% not interested, 46% interested)
Speaking about the report, Councillor Jerry Pearce, Cabinet Member for Streetpride, Public Protection and Open Spaces said:
It’s great to see just how supportive our local residents and communities are of the plans. As a Council we are leading the way, with Allestree Park set to become the first public park in the UK to undergo extensive rewilding.
Projects like these are vital in helping to tackle the effects of climate change, which we’ve all experienced first-hand in recent weeks. Moving forward with these plans will be a key milestone in our aim to be net zero by 2035.
However, we also know that connecting with nature and spending time in green spaces are integral to improved mental and physical wellbeing.
I can’t wait to continue working with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and our other stakeholders to make the vision a reality for our city.
Dr Jo Smith, CEO at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust added:
The results of the consultation give a great snapshot into how excited the community is to rewild Allestree. Rewilding Allestree Park will mean we can start to reconnect vital habitats for wildlife throughout the city. As we do so more carbon will be stored - directly helping to reduce the climate crisis, and people in Derby and surrounding areas will have a beautiful, wild and natural space to visit – which we know is crucial to people’s wellbeing.
We are thrilled that so many local residents have come forward to have their say and would like to thank each and every one for taking the time to give us their views. We have some great insights into how people want to use and enjoy the space now and will use their ideas to help shape the final plans.