“It’s my Gruffalo Walk…please save it!”

The Power of Green Spaces! Have your say before November 16th.

“It’s my Gruffalo Walk and we find footprints but we’ve never seen the Gruffalo. We saw the Snake’s House but no snake. We saw a real fox there. There’s big puddle-jumping on the walk. Please save it” (5 year old) 

“We moved to Histon for the green spaces and the peacefulness it brings. It brings the community closer and creates a pleasant atmosphere”  

“We moved her 18 years ago when my husband fell ill and we needed somewher nice to walk and heal”  (elderly lady)

(at the bottom of this blog find photos and more wonderful quotes from villagers)

The last few Saturdays, we have been standing outside Tescos in Histon asking residents about the green and open spaces that they use and value. Hardly anyone looks at the ground and scuttles around us to be able to get their morning shop done unhindered. People’s eyes light up as they peer at the map and point out their favourite open spaces in and around the village in the green belt: where they walk, run, ride their bike, take the kids, kick leaves, forage for fruit, watch the wildlife, meet others, walk their dogs, breathe deeply and have somewhere to get away from it all. The Neighbourhood Plan is now out for consultation and in a Neighbourhood Plan, communities can create their own Local Green Spaces: naming and defining the spaces that have wide community value and that should be protected. We’re not against development and we do need affordable housing. This is all about saying where should be protected for community connectedness, our physical and mental health – and for nature itself. Have your say before November 16th when the consultation ends.

At the moment, we don’t have any Local Green Spaces named or created for our village. We are also at the bottom of the league for villages in the district in terms of the amount of open and informal space per 1,000 residents. So, this is our chance to change that. Many of the places and pathways that families talk about to us are not named anywhere. We’ve always walked there and we imagine that we always will be able to. That’s not the case. So, it is important to make the most of this huge opportunity to shape the future of the spaces in and around the village. That is why we are out gathering support because we need to convince the Planning Inspector that these places truly have community value. So, please add your voice. Of course, we are talking to landowners about this too. That is what a local plan is all about. A group of local residents has been working hard in their free time to map out these spaces and gather local knowledge about the wildlife that live there and the history of how people have been using them for decades: Robert Bensted-Smith, Nigel Butcher, Finn Holding, Dan Mace and David Chandler.  They have had input from the H&I walking group, the Histon Hobblers running group, the HIBC cycling group, the HI Sustainability Group, the Parish Council Environment Committee and the H&I Archaeology Group, in particular.

On these Saturdays, it’s such a joyous and life-affirming experience hearing people of all ages and families talk about their favourite green places. Come along next Saturday morning between 10 and 12 noon if you haven’t already added your voice and your stories. Have a look at the map to see the spaces identified. Also, go online at http://hiplan.net/ to make a comment on the whole Neighbourhood Plan which is proposing policies for the future of the whole village.

Meanwhile, here are wonderful glimpses of our treasured green spaces, courtesy of local photographer Geoff Grayton. Have you joined the H&I Green Spaces facebook page to discover these spaces through photos and comments? Apply to join now: https://www.facebook.com/groups/627507460923257/

And hear some of the voices and stories that people from the village have shared so far:

“They are special to me becuase they are nearby my house and I can cycle to them. I also see loads of other people using them and enjoying themselves” (13 year-old)

“We fell in love with the openness and green places around the village. It’s why we moved from Cambridge where it’s all cars and concrete where we lived” (16 years old)

“This is the closest space to our family home. We regularly use it for walking and running and enjoy meeting other members of the local community walking often with dogs. It’s a great place to get exercise”

“We call them the triangle of “Trees of Happiness”. We were on a bike ride and saw the trees and fell in love with them. We have now bought our house just by them. We collect pine cones there every year and my daughter plays there most days”  (young couple)

“Running and walking regularly there. Going foraging in the summer for fruit with my children. My yong son thought it was amazing we could find things growing to eat that we didn’t have to get from the supermarket.” (professional mother and runner)

“Breathing Space” between village and A14 is important for health of village and villagers”

“We take the cubs and scouts into Homefield Park 3-5 times per term, each time with 30-40 children; we hike from Girton to Histon and around the neighbouring fields up to 9 times a year”

“We play there in the summer and it’s a very beautiful place which grows lots of berries and is good for wildlife and bees” (two girls aged 10 and 12)

“special places for our family to walk and enjoy the local countryside – vital for our mental and physical wellbeing”

“in the wooded footpaths children are allowed to run on ahead unworried by traffic, kicking leaves”

“Green Spaces are needed in the village, grew up playing in them as kids and expect future kids to be able to”

“We’ve been in the village about 35 years. We did a lot of walking when we had the dog. Now we like to walk and look and have the chance to chat with people”

“Relaxation and healthy green lungs”

“We need as much Green Space as possible. We are so short of space and public footpaths”

“Wildlife has as much rights as people do” (young boy)

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