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The Working Woodlands Centre
maulden wood in spring
Getting involved

If you would like more information on this or any other project the Trust is involved with please contact:

Gill Welham / Jon Balaam

The Greensand Trust,
The Forest Office,
Maulden Wood,
Haynes West End,
Bedfordshire,
MK43 3QT

Tel: 01234 743666

Introduction:
The Working Woodlands Centre (WWC) concept has been around for some years, having been identified in the 2005 ‘Jobs in Ancient Woodlands’ study as an important part of the solution to bringing
under-managed and under-utilised woodlands back into positive management.

It is a partnership project involving the Greensand Trust, Central Bedfordshire Council, The Forestry Commission and Bedfordshire and Luton Economic Partnership (BLEDP).

Aim of the WWC:
The Working Woodland Centre will provide essential infrastructure and support for the protection and enhancement of both the local environment and rural economy.

An exemplar of woodland management it will seek to stimulate new and support existing sustainable woodland enterprise, tourism and opportunities for communities to be involved and benefit from their environment. It will be a ‘hub’ for access and information, acting as an exemplar in positive woodland management and carbon reduction.

Objectives:
Construct new multi-functional visitor facilities at Maulden Wood, including interpretation, cafe, shop, education and community facilities;

Turn existing Forestry Commission sheds into workshop ‘incubator’ units for wood and woodland-related businesses, helping them get started and develop markets and supply chains through strong links with the visitor facilities;

Stimulate sustainable woodland management across Bedfordshire (and beyond), for the benefit of biodiversity, access and the rural economy;

Act as an exemplar ‘hub’ for carbon reduction and renewable energy use at both an individual and community level;

Act as a focal point for access, linking with routes into Maulden Wood and providing information helping visitors to maximise the benefits from access to the site without creating damaging this fantastic resource;

Create an ‘access for all’ route within Maulden Wood, with an interpretive trail, to encourage exploration and learning;

Create an office and volunteer base for the Greensand Trust;

Enhance the appearance of the Deadman’s Hill Lay-by, and reducing
anti-social behaviour.

Location:
The Deadman’s Hill Lay-by is situated off the A6 between Bedford and Luton. It is adjacent to Maulden Wood Site of Special Scientific Interest, a 250 expanse of woodland and meadows, which attracts 125,000 day visits per annum (Forestry Commission figures).

Design and Layout:
The main Working Woodlands Centre will be situated in the lay-by, with the workshops situated a short distance away to the north-west end of the wood. The layout will take advantage of the wooded nature of the lay-by, creating an attractive setting for the Centre amongst trees and close to the main access into Maulden Wood. Improvements to the appearance of the lay-by, along with creation of staffed facilities, will provide a more welcoming experience for the visitor and help reduce existing problems of litter, car crime and other anti-social behaviour.

Project update April 2010

Funding and timescales:
So far just over 1 million pounds has been raised to deliver this project including contributions from East of England Development agency, The Greensand Trust; Central Bedfordshire Council; Forestry Commission; WREN; Rees Jeffrey’s Charitable Trust; Environment Agency and donations from the public.

In addition both the Forestry Commission and Central Bedfordshire Council are contributing significant in-kind contributions including, leasing areas of land to the Trust for the Workshops and Centre to be built on.

The estimated capital costs of the visitor facilities and workshops is approximately £1.2million. including , due to the sites location, higher than expected services and highways improvement costs. Despite this we are determined to raise the remaining shortfall to turn this project into a reality and welcome any support, donations or sponsorship to assist us in raising the remaining funds. If you can help please contact us

Subject to us raising the remaining funds we hope to begin construction later this year with the centre due to open early in 2010. Hillson’s builders have been appointed as contractors and are working closely with Nicolas Tye Architects to build a functional working centre in keeping and in support of the environment.

Community consultation:
Three community 'open evenings' have been held since May 2009; giving local people the opportunity to find out more about the project, meet the people involved (architects, Forestry Commission and Greensand Trust staff) and contribute their ideas and provide feedback on the WWC proposals.

A total of 103 people attended the events in Maulden, Haynes and Clophill. The venue has been rotated to ensure we are reaching as many of our local audience as possible. It has been suggested that the next event is held in Silsoe. The overhwelming response from these events is that local people feel the WWC is an excellent project, providing a much needed facility and improving Deadman's Hill lay-by.

Feedback from the events has shown that:

  • Walking, observing nature and enjoying the fresh air/relaxation are the most popular activities at Maulden Wood
  • People would like more information on wildlife, access/where to go and history and archaeology in particular
  • Indications are that the most popular products a 'wood shop' could sell are items to encourage wildlife and garden products

More detailed user surveys have also been filled out during these events, as well as on-site. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped with the surveys and events.

Highways:
The recent TRAMMS (Highways) meeting to discuss the proposed Traffic Regulation Orders also included the opportunity for local people to have an input. Many of the comments received supported the principle of the project and we hope that the solution reached will allow the project to happen and improve safety in the area.

The approval for the highways works as specified in the planning conditions has been agreed including the consideration, by relevant highway officers and the portfolio holder for Safer and Stronger Communities, of traffic calming measures in Haynes West End. The Highways department is now in the process of preparing a full design and cost for the highways works, which are expected to be completed later in the year.