To consider the report of the Director Net Zero Exeter & City Management.
(1) the results of the public consultation be noted; and
(2) the next steps set out in the report for further developing the proposals for North Brook Park be approved in principle, subject to a detailed proposal presented to the Executive Committee at a future date.
Reason for Decision: As set out in the report.
The Executive received the report which provided an update on the public consultation held on the future of Northbrook Park and to consider the proposed next steps. The Northbrook Park was a strategic location, providing movement of wildlife and a green link between two green spaces, which enabled people to move between parks and traffic free routes into the Quayside, Marsh Barton and the City Centre beyond.
Peter Burgess, the Conservation Director from Devon Wildlife Trust, was in attendance to provide a presentation on the benefits of the partnership working between Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) and Exeter City Council. Key points raised from the presentation included:-
· that more than 1,000 people had been involved in 40 events held at the valley parks and 12 volunteer Rangers had been inducted;
· the volunteer events programme had planted 400 new trees, wildflower plugs and created new ponds at Northbrook;
· the Ludwell habitats and the Mincinglake access projects were two major schemes that had recently been undertaken;
· the consultation had highlighted the future for the area, new opportunities and identified the needs of residents;
· the Environment Agency were providing additional funding to support the re-naturalising of the Northbrook stream;
· the Northbrook Park consultation had received more than 755 responses which equated to 96% of residents being in support of the vision and of those consulted, 45% had volunteered to help work on at site; and
· DWT would continue to work with its partners and stakeholders to achieve the identified proposals set out in the presentation.
In response to Members’ enquiries, Peter Burgess explained:-
· it was the intention to link the walking and cycling routes within the Park to those within the wider Green Circle;
· reflecting on the very positive public response, Crowd Funding could be utilised as a means of raising some funds and other funding streams would also be explored;
· strong connections already existed from Topsham Road to the park and public suggestions for further links would be followed up; and
· whilst the location of the car park had not been widely supported the need to cater for disabled parking was recognised;
Councillor D. Moore, as an opposition leader, enquired on whether carbon emission reduction been calculated to support the enhancement of the project, in line with the 2030 Net Zero target.
Peter Burgess explained that the plans for the Park would be developed in line with the Council’s Net Zero 2030 target through encouraging active travel to reduce car use, additional tree planting for carbon sequestration and supporting biodiversity.
Members welcomed the proposals and recognised the public enthusiasm for the project, noting particularly the value of this and other Valley Parks during lockdown. Members highlighted the Council’s decision to work in partnership with the Devon Wildlife Trust had proven to have been of great benefit to the city and in conjunction with the Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency in July 2019, the Ecology Emergency in April 2021 and with the Net Zero 2030 target.
The Portfolio Holder for Environment and City ... view the full minutes text for item 93