Long Lands Common - sale goes ahead for Harrogate's first community-owned woodlands

The dream of creating Harrogate's first community-owned woodland has become a reality.

The sale is done - Long Lands team and families in Harrogate. (Picture by Gary Lawson Photography).
The sale is done - Long Lands team and families in Harrogate. (Picture by Gary Lawson Photography).

Eighteen months after the seed of the idea was first sown and a year on from the public launch of the Long Lands Common project, the hard-working volunteers have had confirmation that the land sale has gone ahead and the community is now the owner and long term custodian of 30 acres of greenbelt land.

Located on greenbelt land near Nidd Gorge between Harrogate and Knaresborough, the aim of the project is to manage the land as a wildlife haven and public green space, owned and controlled by the community.

The shares campaign to raise the funds to achieve this was one of the biggest community success stories of the last decade in Harrogate.

Support was so overwhelming not only from the public but local schools and businesses, it hit the initial target of raising £300,000 in shares in just four months.

In total, more than 3,000 people invested their own money by buying community shares in Long Lands Common Ltd – a Community Benefit Society

Secretary of Long Lands Common, Chris Kitson, said: "We live in one of the most nature depleted countries in the world and our lifestyles contribute far more than our share to global climate change.

"This project represents a small but important contribution to our district's obligations to tackle both issues.

"My greater vision is that it can be a beacon of hope to inspire change further afield and across all aspects of society.

“Less than two years ago, there were still plans to build a new road across what is now Long Lands Common, which would have attracted significant cross country traffic and opened up the greenbelt to development pressures.

"The strength of opposition to this was overwhelming, so much so that the plans were withdrawn in late 2019. Instead of simply celebrating, those of us behind the campaign to stop the road considered how refreshing it would be if the energy mobilised to fight destruction could be harnessed in favour of positive change instead."

Delighted organisers say the significance of this is considerable and demonstrates that when communities come together to take action we have the potential to change the world.

Over the next few weeks, Long Lands Common volunteers will be prioritising the essential access works that the site needs (laying tracks, erecting fencing, repairing boundaries and mowing pathways) to allow safe and controlled visitor access when it officially opens to visitors in late spring/early summer.

Until then they are asking people not to visit the site without prior arrangement.

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