Campaign to plant wildflowers at Harrogate's Stray gets major boost as part of 10-year parks plan

A campaign to let grass verges at the Stray become mini meadows where wildflowers can flourish has been given a major boost after the proposals were included in a 10-year plan to improve Harrogate's parks and gardens.

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 1:58 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd November 2020, 2:03 pm

The Harrogate and District Green Party has been calling on the borough council for a wider variety of flowers to be planted at the parkland in a move it said will boost biodiversity and the district's green credentials.

Party campaigner Rebecca Maunder said it would show Harrogate is a "forward thinking town fit for the future" and added the council's commitment is "great and very welcome."

She said: "I hope that the council will take it further and look at ways they can increase wildflower areas and biodiversity across the whole district, with an emphasis on creating vital corridors for wildlife throughout both urban and rural areas."

This is what wildflowers at the Stray could look like. Photo: Harrogate and District Green Party.

The council is one of several local authorities across the country jumping on board a 'meadow movement' to ditch mowers and let wildflowers flourish on roadsides and grass verges.

Conservation charity Plantlife has been campaigning on the issue for the last seven years after warning the UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows in less than a century.

Harrogate Borough Council confirmed its backing of the idea as part of its new horticultural strategy which sets out how its almost 1,000-acres of green space should be managed over the next decade.

It said by the end of 2021, council officials will have begun looking at areas where wildflowers could be planted at the Stray and closed churchyards.

Plans also revealed that beekeeping could be introduced at parks, as well as better disabled-friendly access and extra measures to make sure dogs are kept on leads.

This could include new local laws to help prevent dog nuisance under a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO).

The first stages of the council's 10-year plan were published on Wednesday after a public consultation found biodiversity, maintenance and community engagement were the areas which residents wanted to see improved the most.

The plans said: "The Harrogate district is the jewel in the crown of Yorkshire with an unrivalled natural and built heritage.

"This strategy sets out how Harrogate Borough Council plan to manage council controlled green space over the next ten years and beyond to build on our heritage and be a progressive and vibrant place to live, work and visit."

According to two surveys, Harrogate is one of the top 20 visited towns in the UK and visitors rank its parks, gardens and green space as its top attributes.

The council looks after 391 hectares of parkland, seven miles of hedging, over 650 allotments and 60 play areas across the district.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter