Land reserved for country park

Another significant milestone on the road to create a huge country park in Plymouth has been made, thanks to an important land deal.

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust is to transfer ownership of the entire Bircham Valley Nature Reserve to the Council so that it can be part of the new Derriford Community Park.

An executive decision has been signed to approve the acquisition of NHS Trust land at Bircham Valley, Derriford so that the nature reserve legally becomes part of the 140-hectare park.

Plans for a community park have been in the pipeline since 2008. Last year the Council announced an exciting partnership with Duchy College, as part of The Cornwall College Group, to create an ‘environmental education hub’ in the community park.

Poole Farm is being rejuvenated and there are plans for a campus offering courses including horticulture, countryside management and animal husbandry. Other plans include new footpaths and cycle routes, new habitats, a community garden and an orchard for growing food for the farm shop and café.

Work has already started to manage the site with a small herd of cattle coming to graze the grassland areas in the very near future.

Councillor Mark Lowry said: “We are creating thousands of new homes and job opportunities in Derriford but it’s vital people have access to the great outdoors near their home.

“This land transfer will help us deliver this country park and forms part of our joint plans to improve public transport facilities at Derriford Hospital. It makes sound financial sense for these two public organisations to work together in in this way.”

The public transport improvements at the hospital are estimated to cost just over £2 million and are funded by the Heart of the South West LEP and Plymouth City Council.

As well as reducing congestion outside the main entrance and making bus journeys to and from the hospital quicker and more reliable, the Derriford Hospital Interchange scheme will provide better waiting areas for bus and taxi passengers and those getting dropped off or picked up by car.

Construction started in February and is programmed to take nine months.

Derriford has been earmarked as a key growth area for Plymouth with a new district centre, housing and employment proposed to be built over the next 20 years.

The first phase of housing development is already near completion at Palmerston Heights and the new £6.3 million St Matthew’s Church of England Primary School opened last September.

Plans are also progressing on the new link road between Forder Valley and Brest Road, creating a new route between Derriford and the A38 and vital extra capacity on the road network.

The Forder Valley Link Road will provide better access from the east, reduce pressure on Manadon roundabout and complement other transport improvements being made in the north of the city.