Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Old Buckenham Green

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Here is an update from John Fernihough on the work that has been going on to maintain and improve our village Green.
We are very lucky to live in a village with allegedly the largest village green in the country. It extends to forty-five acres, and incorporates about seven acres of mixed woodland.
Certain householders in the village traditionally had grazing rights and also rights regarding timber etc. This was set down by Act of Parliament in the 1790s and the act is very specific regarding individual rights, etc. It was also registered as Common Land in the 1960s, incorrectly, but it would take another Act of Parliament to correct this error.
It is currently leased by Old Buckenham Parish Council who are responsible for its maintenance, grass, trees, paths and ponds.
The Parish Council have a sub-committee, the Green Management Group, that manages the Green. This committee comprises two Parish Councillors, the Lord of the Manor or his representative, two Green Rights Proprietors and two lay members of the village community. Others are sometimes asked to join to help and offer their specialist skills. This committee makes recommendations to the Parish Council, who are the final arbiters as to what is done.
The actual management of the Green can be controversial. We need to cut the grass to keep it tidy and accessible but the timing of this is critical. If it is cut too early many villagers approve as it looks 'better' but others feel it should be left until later to allow wild flowers to seed. We try to come to a happy medium but probably don't satisfy anyone. This year we are hoping to cut the main Green in late June but to leave The Pound, that piece in front of the Almshouses, until the autumn. This may be a reasonable compromise? The grass around the ponds and under the trees is only tidied up in the autumn where it is accessible to a tractor, the rest is left for wildlife, etc.
The various trees are managed, many old and damaged trees have been removed recently and we have 80 replacement trees to plant in the autumn (probably looking for volunteeers then to help with the planting). We have 20 oaks to go into the woodland opposite "The Hovis House" and a mixture of Field Maple and Hornbeam (total 60) to be planted on The Pound and on the Green opposite The Gamekeeper, behind the Bus Shelter and other sites.
We have renovated Green Pond and Ottomer Ponds recently and access is being maintained. Originally we thought to replant trees around the Ottomer but it is now as it was in the 1930s, when tree growth was limited by grazing cattle. It is probably to be left as it is, depends upon public opinion.

The Green is funded by the Parish Council, paid out of your precept, and we are always aware of the need to keep costs down. We received a grant of £2000 from Greggs for the Ottomer Pond, and Mervyn Lambert supplied a machine at cost price to do the earth moving and this was operated, by a villager, for free. There are obviously ongoing costs. Steven Suggitt cuts the main Green twice a year, and trims other areas in the Autumn, again at cost price. A great service, and we are most grateful to all who give their time, etc, for the Village.
Finally, the committee do try to manage the Green for the benefit of our villagers, the wildlife, bats, birds, the environment. Some people may be happy, others dissatisfied but it is a compromise. Should you have any concerns about the Green, please contact one of the Parish Councillors, or myself.

Thank you.
John Fernihough, chair of Green Management Committee
Snetterton Farm, NR17 1PH, telephone 01953 860471

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