Guardhouse Urban Woodland Project

An unwelcoming allotment site will been transformed into an accessible  community woodland in Keighley West as part of a joint project between Keighley Town Council, Forest of Bradford and Tree for Cities.

Over £50,000 of grant awards have been secured to realise the dream of a new urban woodland off North Dean Road, Keighley. WREN is the major funder offering a contribution of £43000 with Trees for Cities and Keighley Town Council has invested £7,000 and Officer Time for its part allowing them to take the project forward.

Over the next six months a large part of the former Allotment site off North Dean Road will be enhanced, completing a number of footpaths and repair work to ensure better accessibility, new natural recreation amenities and a large scale tree planting programme will be adopted.

Keighley Town Council were granted permission from the secretary of state to change the use of the part of the allotment site to another “green use” to help create an urban woodland and ultimately protect the site from development, thereby reversing the trend that most urban woodland and open green space face, an unprecedented level of threat from Land development, growing populations and changing climate.

Keighley Town Council expresses thanks to all involved in making the scheme a reality and has emphasised the importance of securing the land with a green scheme that will benefit the public. Keighley Town Council is delighted to have made the land available for the betterment of the area.

Existing path routes will be cleared, desire lines formalised and resurfaced to, where possible make it suitable to provide access for all users through, and between aspects of the site. At the end of the project, the site will remain under the management of Keighley Town Council’s Allotment & Landscapes committee. The Town Council will continue to work with community groups to manage future events and further improvements.

It has not been an easy journey; the project has become a reality through the work of committed, passionate people who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes over the last two years.

The original idea came from the former chair of the Allotments and Landscapes Committee Cllr Brian Morris. With input from Sean O’Hare who sauced match funding and organised the involvement of Keighley West Environmental Partnership and KIVCA. Keighley Town Council were able to make this a space to be enjoyed by local residents and visitors alike. Since then we have been working with a number of local agencies and gaining their input into the scheme.

Over 9000 trees and shrubs indigenous to the area will be planted along with creation of new habitats and providing an uninterrupted band of tree planting from Newsholme Dean to the centre of Keighley.

The region has a particular low tree cover compared to other parts of the country, with the south west of the Bradford region having a smaller percentage of woodland cover compared to a national average of 10%. This woodland creation not only helps address the gap but also provides a safe haven for wildlife. The woodland and hedgerow structure also creates uninterrupted flight lines for bat and bird populations as well as creating great places for people of all ages to enjoy some quality leisure time.  The new woodland will also offer opportunity for enterprise, surplus from which will help sustain good management principles.

The Woodland once established is a multi-faceted resource that contributes to our quality of life, our communities, the environment and economy. We want to see community woodland which promotes healthy lifestyles and contributes to viable livelihoods.

We’ve had a fantastic response from all involved in the project to date and we are sure those people using the adjacent woods and open space will be excited at the prospect of a much improved environment on their doorstep as well as the opportunity to help create it.

There is a great enthusiasm and spirit being shown for these improvements and we hope this will continue to grow. One way of sustaining that enthusiasm is by offering genuine training opportunities and learning experiences.

There will be plenty opportunity for communities and community groups to be part of the journey and involve themselves in the decision making, creation, management and recreational use of the woods. This includes community tree planting days, forest schools and wild foods workshops, dry stone walling, tree care and wildflower meadow creation.