Charity opens new access route into Coton Countryside Reserve
Local conservation charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future (CambridgePPF) this weekend celebrated the opening of a crucial new access route from Coton village into Coton Countryside Reserve. More than sixty people gathered to mark the occasion, which included a ribbon cutting ceremony for a footbridge that the charity has replaced.
In 2013, CambridgePPF secured grant funding and charitable donations in excess of £36,000 to repair an old farm bridge spanning the Bin Brook – a tributary of the River Cam. Using money from Natural England’s Paths for Communities (P4C) Grant Scheme; The Veolia Environmental Trust through the Landfill Communities Fund; the Co-operative Membership Community Fund; private trusts; and many supporters and local donations, CambridgePPF replaced the dilapidated stone bridge with a brand new timber crossing that provides a fantastic gateway into the site. The work was undertaken in partnership with Lattenbury Services Limited of Godmanchester – a family business that undertakes countryside construction projects for councils, wildlife trusts and environment agencies.
In addition to remodeling the bridge, CambridgePPF has also created a 500-metre public right of way footpath. Linking the village to a network of walking routes within the reserve and beyond, this new route delivers benefits to local residents but also to local wildlife, enabling the careful management of nearby meadows and hedgerows.
The bridge was officially opened by Beryl Smart, a long-term resident of Coton village, and a dedicated volunteer in the Parish Paths Partnership. The event coincided with the annual Coton Cream Tea and was preceded by a guided walk through the reserve led by the CambridgePPF.
Philip Robson, Head of Properties and Green Spaces at CambridgePPF, said: “Restoring the Bin Brook Bridge and creating a new access route into the reserve means that local people including school children will be able to visit the reserve more easily. Avoiding main roads they can now gain access to a wonderful countryside amenity right on their doorstep. We are grateful to everyone that contributed to this project from the grant funders, trusts and individuals that gave money to neighbouring landowners and Coton Parish Council, who assisted with drawing up plans and obtaining consent for changes on site.”
Paul Taylor, Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, said: “Well done to the team at CambridgePPF for completing this project despite some set backs caused by last winter’s wet weather. The bridge has been constructed beautifully and it is wonderful to see an additional route into the site improving access for mobility scooters, wheelchairs and standard prams.”
John Torlesses, Area Manager for Northants, Cambs, Herts, Beds and Essex at Natural England, said: “Natural England is delighted to have supported the work of CambridgePPF through the provision of a Paths for Communities grant. This project has opened up new nature walks for the local community and visitors to the wider countryside. It will also support local wildlife, which local people may enjoy seeing.”
CambridgePPF has owned land at Coton since the 1930s. The Reserve is part of the city’s Green Belt and is a working farm that members of the public can visit. Spanning over 300 acres of pasture and agricultural land it offers diverse wildlife habitats, a hilltop picnic area, panoramic views and new routes for walkers, cyclists, joggers and horse riders. CambridgePPF’s aim for Coton Countryside Reserve is to show how commercial agricultural practices can be managed alongside nature conservation and the provision of public access. The site shows that with imagination and foresight, the Green Belt can be managed for wider public benefit at a time when development pressures are threatening green open spaces.