First glimpse: Long Lands Common members get chance to visit site of Harrogate's first community-owned woodland
Hundreds of Harrogate and Knaresborough people who have put their hands in their pockets to support a pioneering community-owned woodland in Harrogate are being invited to see the site for the first time.
The first official Opening Day and Annual General Meeting is to be held at Long Lands Common after more than 3,000 people bought shares in the project.
Led by Nidd Gorge Community Action, which set up a Community Benefit Society, last year’s campaign raised nearly £350,000 in just six months as local people and businesses flocked to support the Community Shares offer.
Located on 30 acres of greenbelt land near Nidd Gorge between Harrogate and Knaresborough, the Open Day will take place on Saturday, July 24.
One of the key figures behind the success of the appeal, Chris Kitson, said he hoped the event would harness the energy and ideas of Long Lands Common ‘members’.
Mr Kitson said: “It feels like the culmination of 18 months of hard work by our team who are all volunteers.
“It’s a great chance for people to see what they have generously contributed towards but we are still in the very early stages of the project and are looking for shareholders’ input right across the board.”
It’s been a hectic last few months for the volunteers as they seek to turn the 30 acres of open farmland into Long Lands Common.
As well as ecologists beginning the lengthy processes of surveying the site for existing flora and fauna, the team have also been busy plotting out and planning the main access paths for visitors.
Work to complete the site’s transformation is expected to take months and years but the end result is set to include:
Woodland with open areas
A native arboretum and Tree Cathedral
Marshy areas and pond
A children’s wood
An educational area
Chris Kitson said: "We have ecologists and environmentalists involved with the site. There is no rush.
"Our motto has always been "we do what we can".
"The project has been community-driven from the beginning, not corporate, and that is how we will approach creating the woodland itself.
"We want to harness the energy of members and get them involved both in a practical way and with ideas and input.
"The Long Lands Common project needs do-ers."
The Open Day, which will begin at 11am and is dog-free, will include a short AGM, a volunteers’ “Bio Blitz” and bulb planting.
Shareholders will also get the chance to see the site for themselves and enjoy a community picnic on the public green space.
In order to get an idea of the likely numbers at the Open Day, people should register their intent to attend at www.longlandscommon.org/openingday