This is your opportunity to brighten up the verge outside your house with wildflowers or plant up a corner of the open space at the end of your road.
Our Neighbourhood Nature Areas arrangement has been created to help you add extra interest and ecological value to small areas of land presently managed by the parks team, and for this to be in line with the Council’s aims.
Bath and North East Somerset Council is committed to addressing the Climate and Ecological Emergencies.
The Council’s Parks Team is working hard to create new wildlife habitats in parks through its “Let’s Get Buzzing” campaign; working with staff, volunteers, and partners to create new wildflower meadows, habitat grassland, and planting thousands of new trees across the district.
However, if we want to reach our target of making at least 30% of Council owned parks and green spaces better for wildlife by 2030, then we’re going to need your help.
There are hundreds of hectares of road verges and small open spaces in urban areas across the district and although we’re slowly improving them, we would love to hear from volunteers that are willing to help.
We just need to make sure to avoid planting anything that will be difficult or more costly to maintain, or which stops other people from enjoying the space.
We ask that all enhancements to a small verge or corner of an open space stay within these criteria:
• Enhance what is already there, rather than entirely re-landscaping it
• That Plants used are all good for wildlife, such as spring bulbs, herbaceous perennials, and wildflowers.
• No woody shrubs or trees; nothing prickly, pointy, or poisonous and no invasive weeds, please!
• Pathways are kept free of plants; and any vegetation encroaching into the road or onto paths is cut back regularly.
The focus is on soft landscaping only (no stones, sleepers, fences, or hard edgings)
If you’re interested in looking after a small space near your home, please follow this process to make sure that the land is eligible for this scheme:
1. Use the Council’s online map to identify if the land is managed by the Parks Team: https://isharemaps.bathnes.gov.uk/atmycouncil.aspx?tab=1
a. Put in the postcode near the site in question
b. Click on the map and then ensure the location is showing
c. Click the white square next to Vegetation Cutting Regimes on the left of the screen:
d. If the area in question changes colour then the Parks Team maintain it. You can also click on the area to generate a pop-up box which explains the current maintenance regime.
2. Make contact with the Parks Department – email@example.com - to check it is suitable to be gardened for greater ecological value.
3. For instance, areas that won’t be suitable include:
- Road verges where the speed limit is higher than 30mph or areas where volunteers need to work on busy roads.
- Verges near junctions where vegetation needs to be kept low to maintain ‘sight-lines’ for traffic.
- Large areas. We may ask you to start with a small section initially.
- Areas in parks which already have an active ‘friends’ group: https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/sport-leisure-and-parks/parks-inform...
4. Once the location has been agreed in principle with the Parks Team please speak to immediate neighbours of the space to see if they are happy for the change to a stronger element of gardening it for nature and whether they would like to be involved.
5. Get back in touch with the Parks Team - firstname.lastname@example.org - to confirm plans, discuss concerns, and, assuming it is agreed to go ahead, sign an agreement detailing the specific area and plan. This agreement will be reviewed annually.
Frequently Asked Questions
• Who can apply to set up a Neighbourhood Nature Area?
You can be an individual, family, a group of neighbours or an existing neighbourhood group.
You won’t need to set up a formal constituted group to start gardening an area but there does need to be an annual agreement with the Council which details your plans and how the area will be maintained.
This will ensure that volunteers and the public stay safe; and the new Neighbourhood Nature Area will be added to our maintenance maps to ensure that our teams don’t cut them by mistake.
You’ll also get a Let’s Get Buzzing sign to help identify the area as part of our network of wildlife-friendly sites.
• Is there any funding to help look after an area?
Although there is no funding as part of this opportunity you may be able to get funding from other sources. A couple of examples are:
- B&NES Ward Councillors Empowerment Fund: https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/neighbourhoods-and-community-safety/connecting-communities/ward-councillors-empowerment
- Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Neighbourhood money: https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/neighbourhoods-and-community-safety/connecting-communities/bath-city-forum/neighbourhood
- Or you could approach local businesses to see if they can support
• What will happen to the area if we are no longer able to maintain it as a Neighbourhood Nature Area?
Each area will be covered by an agreement that will need to be renewed annually.
If it’s no longer possible to maintain it as a Neighbourhood Nature Area, or if the terms of the agreement can’t be met, then the responsibility for maintenance will revert to the Council, which may need to manage it differently.
• My neighbours don’t like the idea, can I go ahead anyway?
We would need make such decisions on a case-by-case basis depending on the situation. We always aim to find solutions which work for as many people as possible in line with the Council’s aim of Improving People’s Lives.
• Will the Neighbourhood Nature Area be protected from development?
No. It won’t be a designated nature reserve in the traditional sense and unless the area becomes home to protected species its status in planning terms won’t change.
• Will the Council still own and be responsible for the land?
Yes, and the Council may need to change the way it maintains the land at any point, but if this does need to happen then we’ll talk to volunteers first.
Gardening an area of public land under an annual agreement does not give any rights of ownership and the land will remain public open space or part of the adopted Highway.