Harrogate public smash £300,000 target for Long Lands Common as woodlands project dream turns into reality

They've done it! After four months of community share sales and a big publicity campaign involving hundreds of volunteers, supporters of Long Lands Common are celebrating reaching the £300,000 milestone that will enable the community to take ownership of 30 acres of greenbelt land between Harrogate and Knaresborough.

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 20th November 2020, 8:00 am
Success - Long Lands Common volunteers in the area of what will be Harrogate's first community-owned woodland adjacent to the Nidderdale Greenway near Bilton.
(Picture Bruce Rollinson)
Success - Long Lands Common volunteers in the area of what will be Harrogate's first community-owned woodland adjacent to the Nidderdale Greenway near Bilton. (Picture Bruce Rollinson)

In an agreement made a year ago, Nidd Gorge Community Action had until the end of this month to raise the money to buy two large fields next to Nidderdale Greenway to create a woodland nature reserve on land that was recently threatened by the rejected Inner Northern Relief Road.

One year on from the first mention of the idea, the dream of creating Harrogate's first community-owned woodland has become a reality following a phenomenal response from the people of Harrogate & Knaresborough, and beyond, who have supported the project in their thousands by buying community shares in Long Lands Common Ltd – a Community Benefit Society established this year to manage the land as a wildlife haven and public green space, owned and controlled by the community.

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Chris Kitson, the spokesperson for the band of local volunteers who make up the team behind Nidd Gorge Community Action and Long Lands Common said:

“This is a fantastic achievement and a massive demonstration of the power of community action.

!It is proof that there is great enthusiasm and demand for a greener, more sustainable way of life, where people can have more influence and a greater say in shaping the communities they live in.

"Record numbers of local people responded to the public consultation to reject the road that would have been disastrous for the local environment. "Thousands of those same people have now taken positive action to show that they want a nature reserve instead of a road and they have funded it from their own pockets.

"That gives us all some hope for the future. It shows we can think and act for ourselves and be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Now that the November deadline to raise the asking price has been met and the project is definitely going ahead, the Long Lands Common Board have announced that they are extending the share offer for a further month, until December 20th, to try and achieve their maximum share sales target of £375,000 and also enable people to buy shares as Christmas presents.

All further share sales, over the next month, will be used to fund the infrastructure projects that will be needed to transform the farmland into a publicly accessible green space as quickly as possible – particularly the construction of an access ramp and new entrance to the site from the Nidderdale Greenway, footpaths, ponds and a compost toilet.

Anybody still wanting to become a shareholder in this ground-breaking community project and help towards the new target can buy shares online at www.longlandscommon.org or phone 01423 560283 to request a paper application form.

Shares cost £1 each and the minimum investment is £50, which buys a lifetime membership and shareholding that you can pass on to future generations to help protect our greenbelt long into the future.

Shares can be bought as gifts for friends and family. Shareholders must be over 16. Organisations can also become shareholders providing they are incorporated.

The share sale will definitely close on December 20th 2020.

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