Calls for wildflower meadow to be restored as petition hits 100 names

Sue Jennings and Glenda Sturman in front of Hayes Lane playing field. 

Sue Jennings and Glenda Sturman in front of Hayes Lane playing field. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

Residents are calling for the restoration of a wildflower meadow they say has become a '"mess" after being leased to a local wildlife trust. 

Glenda Sturman, from Hayes Lane in Fakenham, is calling on the town’s council and the Hawk and Owl Trust to restore Goggs Mill meadow to its former state. The land was leased to the trust by the council back in January 2017.

Mrs Sturman said the meadow had always been accessible during her 37 years on Hayes Lane, and it was once home to wildflowers, wildlife, a pond, and a bench for residents to enjoy. 

However, she said since the trust leased the land it has been chained up and looks a shell of its former self.

Goggs Mill Meadow, behind Hayes Lane in Fakenham. 

Goggs Mill Meadow, behind Hayes Lane in Fakenham. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

“It's just a mess, an absolute mess,” she said.

“People here have all known that meadow in better days, and now we’re seeing the deterioration, which is unbelievable after you see something which was as lovely as this. It is absolutely dreadful.

"People used to go over there and do their own thing. Nobody was hurting anything, and after all those years, to then all of a sudden to have it all chained off. No access, but why? Why do that?"

Goggs Mill Meadow, behind Hayes Lane in Fakenham. 

Goggs Mill Meadow, behind Hayes Lane in Fakenham. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

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Hawk and Owl Trust, which looks after the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), said the management has to consider what is practical due to the conditions of the land due to excessive flooding there. A spokesman said it is looking at how it can manage all its land, but no decisions have been made.

The town council has also said it has met with Mrs Sturman to discuss the site's management.

Gilly Foortse, mayor for Fakenham, said: “On behalf of Fakenham Town Council, I have had lengthy telephone conversations with a representative of this group and have visited her house and inspected the site with her.

“In addition, she was invited to attend a town council meeting to put forward her concerns, which she did.

“On all occasions, the answer has been the same. Due to the unusually high level of the Wensum over the last months the area is saturated making it impossible for the time being for our leaseholders to access the land."

The meadow is found behind the Hayes Lane playing field was given to the town by Mrs G Duckworth in memory of her brother.

The meadow is found behind the Hayes Lane playing field, a piece of land that was given to the town by Mrs G Duckworth in memory of her brother, Lt Col G N Scott Chad in 1952. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

The meadow is found behind the Hayes Lane playing field, a piece of land that was given to the town by Mrs G Duckworth in memory of her brother, Lt Col G N Scott Chad in 1952.

Mrs Sturman said the field was once preserved by a group of locals including the former mayor of the town, Ann Chappel.

Her petition to restore the land has reached 100 signatures, and she is hoping the responsible bodies will transform the land back into the state it was before the lease.

Glenda Sturman in front of Goggs Mill Meadow.

Glenda Sturman in front of Goggs Mill Meadow. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

“Reverse it back to how it was,” she added.

“So we have access, we have our little bench near the pond, and for the field to be maintained properly as a wildflower meadow.

“It was lovely. And everybody loved it, and we would like proper conservation methods to see it come back to how it was.”

Goggs Mill Meadow, behind Hayes Lane in Fakenham. 

Goggs Mill Meadow, behind Hayes Lane in Fakenham. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

Adrian Blumfield, operations director at the Hawk and Owl Trust, said: “The trust appreciates that the management of land within Fakenham is of public interest, but this has to be put in the context of what is agreed under the existing Environmental Stewardship Agreements and what is physically practical due to the conditions of the land that are imposed on us due to the excess flooding over the last three years.

“With that in mind, we are now looking at a bigger picture post-Brexit and how the trust can manage all its land to meet the new objectives/strategies being suggested and promoted by the government for the years to come.

“In this context, it may include rewilding, new wetlands, or even new woodlands areas, but as yet, no decisions have been made, but it is important to note the Trust will continue to focus on what is important and be guided by our advisers and expert staff.”