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Blackburn Meadows Nature Reserve

 
REPORT OF HEAD OF DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
REPORT TO CABINET 13TH JULY 2005
 
 
BLACKBURN MEADOWS NATURE RESERVE
CABINET REPORT
 
 
1.0             PURPOSE
 
1.1       To seek approval to enter into a new lease with Yorkshire Water covering additional land at Blackburn Meadows Nature Reserve.
 
2.0             BACKGROUND
 
2.1       In 1993, the Council entered into a 99 year lease with Yorkshire Water to enable part of an area of former sewage works land at Blackburn Meadows to be reclaimed and turned into a nature reserve.
 
2.2       At the same time that the lease was signed, an option agreement was also signed with Yorkshire Water. 
 
2.3       The option is for the Council to add an area of adjoining land to the nature reserve which, at the time of signing the lease, was still being actively used by Yorkshire Water.
 
2.4       If the option is not exercised, the option agreement requires the Council to fence off the adjoining land and the cost of this will be in the region of £25,000.
 
2.5       The nature reserve is managed by a consortium consisting of Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, South Yorkshire Forest and Yorkshire Water.  It has developed into an area of European significance for migrating birds and also supports a very active programme of school education visits run by the Wildlife Trust.
 
3.0             NEW LEASE
 
3.1             Yorkshire Water now require the Council either to take the additional land covered by the option agreement or fence the land off at the Council’s cost.
 
3.2       The consortium members agree that adding the adjoining land to the currently leased area would be beneficial to the further development of the reserve.
 
3.3       The mechanism for exercising the option agreement would be to draw up a new lease incorporating the additional land.  A draft lease has been submitted by Yorkshire Water which is broadly similar to the existing lease but points of detail need to be resolved.
 
4.0             FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS
 
4.1       If the option is not exercised, fencing works will have to be carried out at an estimated cost of £25,000.
 
4.2       If the option is exercised, annual rental will be unchanged at one peppercorn per annum.
 
4.3             Leasing the additional land will impose no further burden on the existing grounds maintenance costs for the site.
 
5.0            EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES IMPLICATIONS
 
5.1             Leasing the additional land will extend the area available for all users.
 
6.0            ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS
 
6.1       The additional land has been filled with burnt sewage sludge arising from the sewage works.  This material has been analysed and has been found to be of low level toxicity which is of less than the toxicity of some areas of the existing reserve.  It is considered to be acceptable for public access as long as the existing vegetation cover is maintained.
 
7.0            ECONOMIC IMPACT
 
7.1       With further development, Blackburn Meadows has the potential to be a flagship green space contributing to the regeneration of the Lower Don Valley.
 
8.0            HUMAN RIGHTS IMPLICATIONS
 
8.1       There are no human rights implications.
 
9.0            COMMUNITY SAFETY IMPLICATIONS
 
9.1             Leasing the adjoining land will extend the nature reserve offer and contribute to greater usage of the site.  This additional usage will have a beneficial impact on safety.
 
10.0    AREA PANEL IMPLICATIONS
 
10.1             Extension of the reserve will add to the green space available within the panel area.
 
11.0         RECOMMENDATIONS
 
11.1    That approval is given to negotiate a new lease for Blackburn Meadows Nature reserve incorporating additional land.
 
 
 
 
 
David Curtis
Head of Development Services                                             27th May 2005