£150,000 donation drives forward Clitheroe nature reserve plans

A scheme to transform the neglected Primrose Lodge reservoir in Clitheroe into a nature reserve and public space has taken another important step forward after Lancashire-based Beck Developments pledged £150,000.

The voluntary donation adds to the £500,000 already granted by the European Regional Development Fund to provide a valuable habitat for wildlife and a new, accessible public area.

As the landowner for the last decade, Padiham-headquartered Beck Developments has also transferred ownership of the Primrose Lodge site, which is situated off Woone Lane, to the newly-formed Primrose Community Nature Trust – a collective of local Trustees who together will own, manage and maintain the space moving forward.

The first phase of the project to de-silt the site is well underway. More than 4,000 cubic metres of silt is being dug away to create permanent open water, whilst new vegetation is also planted to provide habitat for diverse wildlife.

The second phase, which is due to begin next month, will create what is expected to be the longest fish pass in England. This will allow multiple fish species to migrate through the town and beyond for the first time in more than 200 years, whilst also encouraging other river species to occupy the area.

The final phase, due to complete in autumn 2020, will create a new public footpath connecting Whalley Road and Woone Lane, including a bridge, board walk, viewing platform and seating area.

Ben Wilkinson, MD of Beck Developments, commented: “The regeneration of Primrose Lodge has been 25 years in the making and it’s been fantastic to support everyone involved in realising our united vision of creating a beautiful nature reserve for the town that ultimately safeguards this important green lung and provides the local residents with a fantastic public space.

“Handing over ownership of the land to a locally-formed Trust, together with providing a £150,000 cash boost, has gone a long way to facilitating the creation of a long-term management plan with clear aspirations that prioritise the wants and needs of local residents, and will ensure the delivery of an important urban wildlife area that can be enjoyed by nature lovers for generations to come.

“In recent years we have delivered a number of high quality residential developments across Clitheroe, including Sycamore Walk, which has several new homes that actually overlook the new regenerated lodge. We’ve been overwhelmed by public support for the project and look forward to seeing the future phases come to fruition. The delivery of this project would not have been possible without the hard work and determination of River Ribble Trust, Primrose Community Nature Trust and Ribble Valley Borough Council, who also deserve a great deal of credit for their contribution.”

Chair of the Primrose Community Nature Trust, Richard Stephenson, adds: “Despite a summer of heavy rain, we’re making excellent progress on the de-silting of the lodge. Once complete, the reserve will be enjoyed by so many people, such as children and parents using the public access route to walk to school, and also providing a recreational spot for nature fans.

“Primrose Lodge is a major asset for Clitheroe and a huge thank you to Ben and all at Beck Developments for allocating this land to local control.”

Jack Spees, CEO of Ribble Rivers Trust, spearheaded the European funding application and subsequent grant from the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government.

Jack concluded: “Primrose Lodge has been the culmination of years of hard work by a large number of people to realise and bring forward our ambitious plans. We’ll shortly undergo procurement for the next phases of the project, and look forward to enjoying the completed site with the local community next year.”