New million-pound woodland and parkland project

Londonthorpe Woods. Image supplied.
Londonthorpe Woods. Image supplied.

A new million-pound project is hoping to create a huge expanse of woodland and parkland for people to explore.

The £1.2 million plan, by the Woodland Trust and National Trust, will see them open up of the borders of land connecting the eastern part of Belton House and Londonthorpe Woods, just outside the Sleaford area.

The area once formed part of the 17th Century Brownlow Estate but over time this historic landscape has become fragmented.

The project will create unprecedented access between the sites, allowing people to seamlessly explore a combined area of 225 hectares of woods and parkland, discovering its secret history and environmental features.

The relatively new Londonthorpe Woods is described as a haven for wildlife with a variety of habitats, including open spaces, high forests, ponds and scrubland. The first tree at the site was planted in 1993.

Ian Froggatt, Londonthorpe site manager, said: “We’re thrilled to get this initial piece of financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Lottery players which we hope will lead to a much larger grant to deliver the project.

“The project will allow visitors to not only enjoy the attraction of Belton House but also explore much of the wider Brownlow estate, including what is now Londonthorpe Woods.

“With a winning combination of history and nature, it has the potential to be the green lungs of Lincolnshire enabling visitors to enjoy and experience a wealth of health and social benefits”.

Thanks to players of the National Lottery, the project has already received a funding boost of £64,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This development funding has been awarded to help the Woodland Trust progress their plans to apply for a full grant of £428,800 at a later date.

The National Lottery grant will allow the project to work towards creating a warm welcome with engaging information which will enable everyone to learn more about these two special places.

The Woodland Trust says a programme of events and activities will be organised to involve the local community and visitors from further afield.

A spokesman added: “Conservation will also be at the heart of the project, it will work to restore and enhance key wildlife habitats, helping to ensure their protection long into the future. It will also seek to protect and enhance built heritage and parkland features.”

An extensive consultation programme will kick off this summer - but the trust says the project will not go ahead without match funding for the potential National Lottery grant.

The Woodland Trust and National Trust also need to secure another half a million pounds to make it a reality.