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UPDATE - The Valley refurbishment

Our comprehensive renovation of the Valley is finally complete, with Ebsford Environmental, our contractors, formally handing the site back to us in mid-November. It has been a long and challenging 11 months, from the initial CIL bid application in December 2020, to preparing budgets and conducting £48,000 of regulatory surveys for water quality, nesting birds, bats, newts and other wildlife before we could even begin work. Then finally, in late August, moving onto site with a tight nine week build schedule before the weather closed in.

The initial surveys showed that the Valley and its lake had very low biodiversity due to the brambles and scrub vegetation taking over and choking out all other wildlife and blocking light to the floor of the wood. The first task was to undertake much needed land management to allow the strong healthy trees to flourish and increase biodiversity on the floor of the wooded areas. We have planted over 5,000 spring bulbs in this area which will slowly naturalise over the next few years. The banks of the lake have been planted with a wide variety of marsh plants that by next summer will bloom and cover the banks.

 Surveys and testing showed that the lake was slowly dying and had very low oxygen levels. We re-established the feed from the stream that had become blocked by silt, roots and bulrushes which helped the water levels in the lake to rise by a healthy amount, adding much needed oxygen and microorganisms. The two weirs in the stream and at the far end of the Valley were both refurbished and, in the stream, the weir was completed relocated and the stream meandered to improve water flow.

One of the conditions of our grant from Huntingdonshire District Council was that we improve access for everyone. We ripped up all the old paths around the Valley and the playing fields and replaced them with new tarmac, widening the paths to accommodate wheelchairs, mobility scooters and prams. The path down the weir was a particular challenge as it was very steep and rutted. We raised the ground levels with soil and reduced the slope. The path was then laid in a Z-pattern with landing stages for extra safety.

The challenge for the Trust will be to preserve this work to create a lasting legacy for Buckden residents. It will take dedication, regular fundraising and a clear vision by the Board of Trustees. We welcome volunteers to join our trustee board to keep the Village Hall prosperous and well managed.


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