Fen Drayton Lakes - RSPB reserve

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Scheme: an exciting challenge

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) recently reaffirmed its commitment to its popular Landscape Partnership programme to which it allocates millions of pounds every year. One of the few such schemes currently in the East of England region is the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (LP) which is in its development phase.

Last July, the HLF awarded c.£90,000 to the Ouse Washes LP to develop this scheme in detail, with c.£900,000 earmarked subject to a satisfactory stage 2 submission in late 2013. Cambridgeshire ACRE is leading on this on behalf of a wide partnership; it appointed a Programme Manager to capture the information needed for the stage 2 bid.

The Ouse Washes LP focuses the attention on a landscape worthy of conservation and promotion, thereby helping to provide a secure future for the landscape, its heritage and communities. There is a lot to do: the Ouse Washes landscape is not well known, it does not cover any landscape designations, nor is it recognised as a tourism destination. Also, most people do not understand how it all functions and what the threats to this landscape are.

The development phase is progressing well. Nevertheless, it is not an easy process, working within timescales which are such that we cannot afford to waste time. Several projects are now underway, including a Landscape Character Assessment to describe the landscape, and community consultations to capture information about audiences, access barriers and engagement opportunities. Our diverse partners which include community organisations, charities, county councils and statutory agencies, are also developing the 25 or so projects they will be carrying out during the delivery phase.

Timely and effective communications are essential throughout this process, with the partnership and with our diverse audiences. Using good quality imagery is vital in this; the Ouse Washes LP has got access to good resources, including a database of photographs taken by PJ.elements for Cambridgeshire ACRE showing people and places in this fascinating landscape.

If you would like to know more about the Ouse Washes LP, please check out our blog, http://ousewasheslps.wordpress.com/, and Twitter page, https://twitter.com/ousewasheslp.

Mark Nokkert

Ouse Washes: The Heart of the Fens Landscape Partnership Programme Manager, Cambridgeshire Acre.

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