Brighter future for Manor Road woodlands in Keynsham

BETTER pathways, new seating and improved access for people with mobility and sensory impairments are among the improvements planned for Manor Road Community Woodland in Keynsham following a public consultation.

Feedback from woodland users has helped Bath & North East Somerset Council identify the priorities to improve the well-used nature reserve, which also includes better signage and maps, new ponds and gate repairs.

Ways to incorporate natural play facilities, nature trails, volunteering opportunities and a new maintenance plan for the wildflower meadow and existing pond will also be explored.

Work to replace the boardwalk with recycled plastic decking was due to begin from the week commencing October 30.

The public consultation, held from May to July this year, sought to understand who uses the woodland and why, what visitors would like to see provided in the future and to gather feedback on the suggested improvements.

A report on the main findings from the 200 responses received shows that 74% of respondents visit the woodland regularly, with 32% of those being daily.

The three main reasons for visiting were to enjoy nature, exercise and walk one or more dogs. A total of 75% of respondents travel to the woodland on foot, with 81% living within a kilometre.

An ecological survey and accessibility audit were also carried out to identify measures to improve the woodlands’ biodiversity, as well as its accessibility.

Councillor Tim Ball, cabinet member for neighbourhood services, said: “Manor Road Community Woodland is an important ‘green lung’ between Keynsham and Saltford that is popular with residents.

“Through this project, we want to create accessible routes in and around the woodland so that more people can enjoy everything it has to offer, as well as improving the seating and entrances.

“These plans will encourage greater biodiversity as well, increasing pollination and supporting climate regulation.”

B&NES Council manages the woodland with support from the Friends of Manor Road Community Woodland to conserve its woodland, meadow and water environments, which are home to diverse wildlife and plant species.

The Friends of Manor Road Community Woodland said: “We are very pleased with the results from the consultation and the ecological report. It covers everything that we hoped for.

“It is very ambitious so the next important step is to prioritise the tasks to determine what can be achieved within the budget and what should be done first. The Friends Group have asked to be involved in this step. Plans are already in hand to replace the boardwalk by the pond, which is something that the group has been pressing for, so that’s a good start.”

The improvement works will be funded by Section 106 payments which councils receive from developers to improve local amenities for new and existing residents.