Plans for our new city nature reserve, NWT Sweet Briar Marshes, are taking shape following the end of the first stage of community engagement.
Feedback from the community will be used to map out a long-term vision for the reserve and surrounding area – known as a masterplan – which will be subject to further public and stakeholder engagement later in the year.
Over a thousand people have shared their views about the new nature reserve, and how they would like to be involved, at a series of drop-in sessions, guided walks, presentations and workshops run in and around the neighbourhoods surrounding Sweet Briar Marshes, as well as via an online survey.
Children's nature activities, pond dipping, den building, cycle stands, places to sit and enjoy the wildlife and twilight walks were just some of the thoughts fed in by the local community.
We purchased the 90-acre wildlife-rich site in the Mile Cross and Wensum areas of the city last year, thanks to generous financial support from project partners Aviva, the Geoffrey Watling Charity, The Paul Bassham and Leslie Mary Carter Charitable Trusts alongside others, and public donations – making it the fastest appeal in NWT history.
Our Director of Engagement, Natalie Bailey, said: “Nature plays such an important role, not only in terms of the health of our planet but also for our own personal health and wellbeing.
“We need people to be able to enjoy and connect with nature, so they value and care for it. So, we are hugely excited about this fantastic opportunity to help urban communities in Norwich access a nature reserve on their doorstep and experience all the benefits nature offers.”
Our senior engagement officer, Gemma Walker, said: “This is the first time NWT has worked alongside the local community in this way to create a shared vision for one of our nature reserves – and we have been delighted by the response.
“NWT Sweet Briar Marshes is important for so many reasons. There is fantastic biodiversity, habitat and wildlife, which we will look after and improve, and it provides a natural oasis for the residents of Norwich, which we hope will inspire more people to act for nature.”
Landscape specialists, SheilsFlynn, are working alongside us and the local community to jointly design a plan for the future of Sweet Briar Marshes. This ‘masterplan’ will map out a long-term vision for the reserve. It will capture the feedback received from community engagement, as well as show the possibilities and constraints from in-depth research and growing knowledge of the site.
The draft masterplan for Sweet Briar Marshes will be shared at a series of public events later this year and people will have further opportunity to comment both online and in person.
The intention is that NWT Sweet Briar Marshes will open to the public before the end of the 2023, although work to fully complete the vision for the reserve will continue over the next few years.
Find out more www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk/sweetbriar