30/05/2014 - Permalink

Shelf Bank becomes Oswestry’s first Local Nature Reserve

Related topics: Community

Shelf Bank is a 3ha area of natural public open space occupying a small hill overlooking the centre of Oswestry.  The site is managed by Shropshire Council’s outdoor recreation service in association with The Friends of Shelf Bank, local councillors and partner organisations.

The site was recently designated a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and is a first for Oswestry. In keeping with what an LNR offers, it is our intention to manage the site for its wildlife and heritage and to enable visitors to freely access and enjoy these qualities through good footpaths, seating, information boards, and through appropriate management of the site to maximise its biodiversity and activities.

In 2013 Shropshire Council’s Sustainable Transport Fund financed the creation of a network of footpaths across the site linking the east of Oswestry to the town centre and the summit, which offers excellent views across the town and the wider Shropshire countryside.  A new access route from Elgar Close allows people on mobility scooters and wheelchairs the opportunity to get the summit for the first time.

The site has a wealth of heritage associated with it, from Wat’s Dyke which forms its southern boundary, to the Royal Observer Corps World War 2 and Cold War bunker ruins at the summit.

Visible from the summit of Shelf Bank are a number of features which all contribute to making Oswestry and north west Shropshire what it is today.  These include Ardmillan House, the Castle Mound, Oswestry Hillfort, Thomas Savin and the railways, and beyond to Nesscliffe hill forts and The Wrekin.  It is hoped that external funding can be applied for later in 2014 to tell the story of this rich heritage.

On Sunday 17 August 2014 there will be a family celebration event on Shelf Bank, with stalls and activities from bug hunts and guided walks to Forest School and kite flying.  This is a free event, from 10am to 5pm, and one we hope will continue in the summer for years to come.

Anyone wanting to join The Friends of Shelf Bank or wanting further details please contact Shaun Burkey, Shropshire Council’s greenspace officer: shaun.burkey@shropshire.gov.uk.

Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for leisure, said:-

“I am absolutely delighted with the designation of Shelf Bank as a Local Nature Reserve; it’s the culmination of years of work in the centre of Oswestry and will bring an added natural richness to the town.  Greenspaces benefit mental and physical well-being and add so much to the quality of all our lives, and this designation celebrates that fact.”

Carol Booth, Chairperson of Friends of Shelf Bank, said:

”The importance to me on a daily basis, both physically and psychologically, of accessing this astoundingly beautiful ‘natural’ area on my ‘doorstep’ is priceless, and the news that the area has been awarded Local Nature Reserve status is certainly worthy of celebration.  It is reassuring to know that it will be managed sympathetically for the protection and preservation of wildlife, and the enhancement of accessibility it offers local people and visitors too.”

Martin Bennett, a local Shropshire Councillor for Oswestry East, said:

“I am very pleased with the importance of this site and the work and enthusiasm of the Friends group has been recognised.  They join the Friends of the Wilfred Owen Green and the Eastern Oswestry in showing what the local community in partnership with Shropshire Council can achieve; I wish them all well in their effort, and will be working for more such partnerships in the future.”

Further information

Shelf Bank was compulsory purchased by Oswestry Borough Council in 2005.

The Friends of Shelf Bank was founded in 2013 by local residents to work alongside Shropshire Council’s outdoor recreation staff and to take an active role in the management and celebration of this area of public open space. The Friends run regular events on Shelf Bank, and work parties manage habitats, monitor flora and fauna, and litter pick.

Shaun Burkey, greenspace officer, co-ordinates the management of greenspace across north Shropshire.  He initiated the compulsory purchase process in 2004, designed and co-ordinated the landscaping of neighbouring Wilfred Owen Green in 2010, and has co-ordinated the designation of Shelf Bank as an LNR.  He has written the management plan for Shelf Bank, helped found the Friends of Shelf Bank, and continues to co-ordinate the management of the site.