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The Harnham Water Meadows Framework Management Plan - Contents

5. Urban Countryside, Amenty and Education

5.1 Watermeadows provide an image of the ‘rural idyll’, yet the Harnham system is actually surrounded on all sides by urban land, including the Churchfields Industrial Estate. The role of the Trust is to look outwards to the community and be as inclusive as is practically possible. There is much interest from local primary schools and further and higher education, as well as community groups and learned societies.

5.2 Underpinning most considerations is the relation to the community, interpretation, formal and informal education and ‘social engagement’ including social learning and ‘hard to reach’ groups. Physical access has to remain controlled, but a clear policy is needed to ensure the public are engaged and the Trust gains volunteers; hence visual access from the boundaries and a green transport plan need to be promoted. This is within the remit of ‘The Living River Project’ (ANNEX III).

5.3 The conference advised that HWMT should look forward as much as backwards, being aware of its ‘public face’ in terms of permitted access and interpretation. It is likely that many local people, although familiar with the area, have little or no concept of water meadow function or purpose. The opportunities for school visits, work placement, continued professional development, community groups, student visits and projects should all be explored and encouraged. HWMT should examine its effectiveness in accessing hard to reach community groups. BTCV are assisting in this matter.

5.4 Presentation of the meadows should take account of the needs of grazing, having regard for the area as a ‘working farm’, of bio-security and gaining income from accompanied access. Management developments on the meadows might take advantage of features currently not regarded as ‘authentic’ in the historic sense, such as copses (as distinct from pollards) and boggy areas that provide opportunity for habitat enhancement.

5.5 Much of this might be reflected in promotional literature and other means of interpretation. The opening of Rose Cottage at evenings and weekend should be seriously considered. There are a number of possible viewpoints of the meadows, including the view from the Cathedral Tower, the Town Path and the views from Middle Street (Rack Mead).The idea of themed visits was expressed stressing history, agriculture, archaeology, plants, wildlife etc. Such visits should provide a basis for further community involvement.

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