Queenswood and Bodenham Lake transfer near completion

Thursday 22nd October 2015

Queenswood Autumn Festival, 3rd October 2015.  Photo copyright of Billie CharityQueenswood Autumn Festival, 3rd October 2015. Photo copyright of Billie Charity

Local charities Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and New Leaf Ltd anticipate that Herefordshire Council will hand over Queenswood Country Park and Bodenham Lake nature reserve to them by Christmas.

This ‘community asset transfer’ will herald a new era of inward investment for these much loved sites, which combined receive over 500,000 visits per year. The council will be leasing Queenswood and Bodenham Lake to the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and New Leaf partnership on a 99 year leasehold to continue to deliver improved public benefits.

Promoting sustainable living and a connection to nature is at the heart of the partnership’s vision for the sites. As one of the most visited tourist attractions in the county, Queenswood Country Park will once again have a visitor centre and shop, which will showcase a mix of ‘made in Herefordshire’ and ‘nature inspired’ products. There are also ambitions for a local food hall – linked to the partners’ vision and making a real contribution to the county economy.

The public consultation events in April made it clear how important Queenswood and Bodenham Lake are to the people of Herefordshire and access to nature improves the health and wellbeing of all. Partnership staff and volunteers look forward to being able to welcome the public to these fantastic sites. A range of family events are planned, whilst visitor signage will be improved over the next year, and the conservation of both sites will be enhanced over the longer term.

Kate Gathercole, Director at New Leaf, commented “There is a huge appetite for more events and children’s activities at Queenswood, demonstrated by the record breaking turn out for the Queenswood Autumn Festival as part of h.Energy week in early October.

An end to public funding means that car parking charges will be introduced at Queenswood. All income generated will be re-invested back into essential management activities at both sites including ensuring that playgrounds, toilets, buildings and footpaths are kept safe and therefore open. The minimum charge will be £1 for an hour, with a maximum of £3 charged for visits over 2 hours. There will be a ticketed 20 minutes available free of charge for undertaking short trips to the visitor centre and café.

A ‘Friends of Queenswood and Bodenham Lake’ scheme will be launched. For just over £3 per month, Friends will receive an annual parking permit, discounted entry to events, regular e-newsletters and promotions at the visitor centre. Anyone wishing to join the scheme can drop by the visitor centre once re-opened, with existing Herefordshire Wildlife Trust members receiving a discount of 50%.

John Clark, Development Director at Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, commented “The Friends of Queenswood & Bodenham Lake scheme is a great way for people to support the sites, and we would love to hear from anyone interested in volunteering to help people get the most from their visit.”

Further detail can be found on our Queenswood and Bodenham Lake webpage