Why are we creating a country park?
The new country park is being created in an area identified in the Local Plan as needing additional open space to serve the growing communities. Once complete, it will connect the housing developments to the new primary and secondary schools at Oakley Grove, Community Stadium and other public amenities.
The Local Plan sets out the reasons for creating the country park, including:
- ensuring there is undeveloped green space retained between Bishop’s Tachbrook village and emerging new development
- offering a space for informal leisure and safe access to surrounding places on foot and via cycling
- improving the potential for habitats and wildlife on the site
How big will it be?
Stretching across 49 hectares between Bishop’s Tachbrook, Whitnash, Leamington Spa and Warwick, Tachbrook Country Park will become one of the largest green spaces in the district.
Where is it located?
The site is located on the northern valley sides of the Tachbrook and sits within a bowl like landscape which is fairly steeply sloping in parts. Previously, the site has functioned as arable fields. In the coming months parcels of land on this site will be released from their current owners to the Council and will then be pieced together to form the expanse of Tachbrook Country Park.
What will be included in the Country Park?
The country park needs to provide 1.4 hectares of play space. We reviewed existing and proposed play areas in the surrounding area and noted that there is a good amount of traditional play equipment for younger children.
The country park provides an opportunity for something a bit different, that is in keeping with the country park use.
Habitats for wildlife
When planning permission was granted for housing to the south of Harbury Lane, to compensate for the loss of wildlife habitat, it was agreed that the country park should be designed to be beneficial to a range of different wildlife.
This could include providing additional areas of woodland, meadow grassland, orchards, areas of wetland and other beneficial habitats for native species.
There is a requirement to include 2.75 hectares of food growing space within the country park. Options include traditional allotments, community food growing area community orchards.
Currently, there is no official public access to any part of the country park. To allow for safe access for people of all ages and abilities, a network of paths will be implemented. This will tie into the surrounding network of existing footpaths and cycle paths. Different types of path will be suitable for different parts of the country park.
What are you doing to help wildlife?
A range of measures will be brought in to introduce more opportunities for wildlife. The site has been designed carefully, to introduce new habitats and wildlife, as well as protect what is already there. Measures include:
- Creation – more trees, hedges, orchards, fruit bushes and shrubby areas will be introduced. Wildlife and humans will benefit from the berries and fruits and they will bring more visual interest to the park.
- Improvement – some wet areas will be preserved and grassy areas will have their species mix increased to support more plants and creatures. Bear in mind that this can mean that some parts of the park will not be as “manicured” as say, a private garden. Things like unmown grass and messy-looking areas can be great havens for wildlife you might not think about such as insects and invertebrates.
- Protection - keeping paths away from certain areas to allow animals and habitats to continue to thrive and improve. In some places, you will have the opportunity to see more of this from vantage points without disturbing wildlife
Why are there so many ponds in the country park?
One of the stated purposes of the country park in the Local Plan is to play a role in flood alleviation. True to its name, the country park includes a river – the Tach Brook. The geography of the land also includes a valley with existing wetland areas along the Tach Brook. Without these ponds we would expect to see increased flooding in the country park as a result of the increase run off from new areas of development.
The ponds in the country park are called Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs). They are effectively part of the engineering of the area for the new housing. The SuDS ponds act as places to capture rainwater, which drains off roads and rooves and allows it to recede slowly and safely, without causing emergencies or damage to the wider area at times of high rainfall.
The ponds provide the opportunity to create spaces that are more than just functional. We have worked with housing developers to include as much space for nature as possible within their design. Over time new the planting around the SuDS ponds will mature and this will give them a more naturalistic feel and attract wildlife.
You may notice the levels of water within the SuDS ponds vary. This is normal and will depend upon recent rainfall and weather.
Why are there different types of paths?
The park will offer access for pedestrians, cyclists and others who may want to enjoy the outdoors. Paths for these activities will vary and will also help direct people to places they can go, whilst moving activity away from nature.
Wider tarmac paths will be relatively shallow in gradient and suitable for pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and people with buggies. Once the park has been fully constructed, a tarmac path will run the full length of the country park and will provide off road connectivity from Europa Way to Oakley Wood Road, with periodic connections to the new housing to the north. Tarmac paths will also support maintenance vehicles to move around the park without damaging the landscape.
Narrower stoned and mown paths will also be incorporated into the site. These paths will provide routes for those who would like to experience a more rugged countryside experience. Stoned and mown paths blend into the landscape and help to retain a natural feel. In some sections these paths will have a steeper gradient.
I don’t like the changed view that I will see
The overall country park design has had to balance privacy, safety, accessibility and intended function. Views over green areas have been retained where possible, whilst carefully designed tree planting has been incorporated near housing developments to provide some level of separation and privacy from the country park.
What else will the park offer?
There will be a refreshment centre near to one of the park entrances. This will be a place where toilets and light refreshments will be available. It will operate during daylight hours. Close to the refreshment centre in the east of the site, there will be a play area that focuses on “tots to teens”. A second natural play area will be aimed at ages ten and above and is sited further into the park.
There doesn’t seem to be much parking at the country park.
The Local Plan sets out the functions intended for the country park. Its primary benefit is to those who live close by and can access it readily on foot, bicycle or via public transport. There will be a modest number of parking spaces available within the country park for those who are not able to access public transport/active travel as a means of getting to the park. Once the school on Oakley Wood Road is complete, country park users will also have access to parking at the school site, outside of school hours.
Why are there allotments, orchards and community growing in the country park?
Planning requirements to build the new housing have meant that the creation of new allotments related to the increase in housing must be made. Additionally, there is already unfulfilled demand for allotments in the area. Allotments in the country park have been designed to be accessible particularly to local residents but will not affect the core of the park. Fencing and screening will be part of their creation.
Orchards provide a different type of area which is open to country park users. They have the added benefit of bringing different tree species to the landscape as well as free fruit!
What is a ‘community growing area’?
Unlike the formal leasing of an area to an individual as an allotment, community growing areas offer an introduction to growing food and other produce, based around community ownership. They offer different benefits. When the make-up of the country park was consulted upon, the majority of respondents were in favour of community growing areas in the country park. Benefits to the surrounding community include:
- helping people meet one another within a new community and offering opportunities to those who are more isolated
- learning about the land, environment and food as well as skills to tend the land and by extension, nature
- supporting sustainability by creating a source of produce
- supporting less well-off families
The Council is currently working with groups who are interested in co-ordinating the use of the community growing areas, orchards and allotments. This project will also be made open for expressions of interest from other organisations at an appropriate time.
When will the country park open?
Following planning approval for Tachbrook Country Park, the next steps will be to conduct necessary archaeological surveys, while at the same time also going out to tender for construction works. Subject to detailed planning permission being granted, a construction timeline will be confirmed in due course. This will set out the programme for the construction works and subsequent opening of the country park. Updates will be provided on the Tachbrook Country Park website page.
Can the public access the site before it officially opens?
The land remains in private ownership and is not currently suitable for public access. At the present time there is no official public access to any part of the land that will become the country park.