Harrogate's first community-owned woodland: Appeal hits amazing £185,000 so far but hard work goes on
A phenomenal public response to a residents campaign to create Harrogate’s first community-owned woodland has already raised more than £185,000 towards the project.
On a single day recently, 50 different members of the public bought shares in the Long Lands Common which would see an available piece of Harrogate greenbelt farmland transformed into a new 30-acre public woodland, accessible to all, with thousands of trees providing a rich habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.
One of the main figures behind the appeal, Bilton resident and teacher Chris Kitson, said the campaign had also received a boost from a national community shares initiative involving Co-operatives UK.
Mr Kitson said: “So far, members of the public have bought approximately £150,000 worth of shares.
“We have now been awarded £35,000 in match funding for shares from the Community Shares Booster programme.”
Growing partly out of the successful campaign to stop a relief road in the Nidd Gorge area, after establishing a Community Benefit Society, the Long Lands Common team set a target of £300,000 in shares to buy the 30-acre site on land between Bilton Lane and Bogs Lane on the border of the Nidderdale Greenway, close to its starting point at The Avenue in Starbeck and the Bilton Triangle.
There will be a particular emphasis on putting the new woodland to educational use and Long Lands Common volunteers have been working hard to establish links with Harrogate and Knaresborough schools.
Common volunteers are working hard to establish links with Harrogate and Knaresborough schools.
More than 500 members of the public may have already bought shares but, while grateful for the support so far, Mr Kitson said they were keeping the pressure going and the appeal would not be resting on its laurels.
He said: "We are now making an appeal to those who made a pledge but had not yet bought shares in the run-up to the appeal deadline of November 20.
"People can buy as many £50 shares as they like but each person will only have one vote in order to ensure that the community retains control of the woodland."
Local businesses are also being invited to become shareholders in the Long Lands scheme.
To buy shares in the project and to discover more about Long Lands Common and the people behind it, visit their website at: www.longlandscommon.org
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