Charity plans accessible woodland on edge of Richmond

Members of the Just the Job team at work.

A charity has unveiled a plan to create a woodland accessible by all the community to mark the 950th anniversary of the founding of Richmond.

It is hoped the proposal by charity Just The Job will form a key part of a year-long celebration marking the 950th anniversary of the beginning of construction on its Norman castle, the first in England to be built of stone.

While Breton nobleman Alan the Red established the town and fortification on land given to him by William the Conqueror for helping quell unrest among the population, the scheme being considered by Richmondshire District Council next week aims to give land back to residents.

The charity says it wants to create a natural place where people can play, walk, think, learn, relax, walk the dog and that appeals to all ages and abilities.

Other ambitions include cutting carbon, enhancing the landscape and natural biodiversity of the area, creating a habitat for wildlife and an educational resource for local schools as well as forging links with the local arts community.

With the consent of the Zetland Estate, the proposed wood, to the north of Gallowfields Trading Estate, would be planted in such a way that, following initial phases of thinning, at least 950 trees are retained to establish into mature specimens.

The wood would include benches, clearings, environmental art and a small rustic structure for the observation of wildlife and the display of interpretation on the history and significance of the town.

A spokesman for Just The Job, which supports adults with a wide range of abilities in practical, work orientated therapeutic activities, said: “The wood will become a natural and cultural resource, fostering an appreciation of the history of the town and of the value of wooded habitats.”

Just the Job has agreed to oversee the management of the woodland.

Ahead of the council’s planning committee considering the scheme next week it has been enthusiastically received, despite the planned site being currently used for agricultural grazing and being overlooked by the grade I listed castle.

Richmond Civic Society has commended the proposal for its “imaginative use of the area”, while the British Horse Society said the scheme would benefit the local community while having a minimal impact on nearby public rights of way.

Richmondshire Ramblers has confirmed it supports the project as it should improve the access opportunities for residents.

Recommending the scheme be granted, planning officers said the proposal was not considered to be harmful to the setting of the Richmond Conservation Area, the nearby heritage assets such as Richmond Racecourse or important historic views, particularly from Richmond Castle Keep.