Community Garden project

The Triangle Pocket Nature Park

Draft community management plan for Donnington nature park and herb garden

DTRA February 2019


· DTRA and Oxford City Council Parks Dept. are working in partnership to rejuvenate Donnington Rec. Ground. Benefits have already been realised (Donnington Football Club formed and playing on a new pitch, and new gates, bike racks, bins and benches installed at the ground).

· As a result of the visible successes at the rec. ground, the City Council’s Estates Dept. invited DTRA to bid for a project to rejuvenate a small piece of land next to the North East corner of the rec. ground. This piece of land, bounded by the rec ground and Boundary Brook, is owned by the Estates Dept. It used to be a community garden, but the work needed to maintain the area became overwhelming for the volunteers involved and difficulties preventing work being carried out by the utility companies & Oxford City Council eventually led to the project being abandoned.

· The benefits of this rejuvenation would be; reduced risk to health & safety for those using the Rec. Ground and protecting/improving wildlife diversity within the area and other connected natural areas in the immediate vicinity. In effect turn the plot of land, informally called ‘The Triangle’, into a pocket nature park.

· After meetings with Carl Whitehead from Oxford City Council’s Green Spaces Team, Andy Gunn and Ceri Cadwalladr from BBOWT, and a walkabout for local residents, we have developed this proposal.


· The area is roughly half an acre in size and triangular in shape.

· It has access at the east end onto Iffley Road (by means of a 4m wide track track with a locked vehicle barrier 20m along) and at the west end to Donnington Recreational Ground where it widens to 40m.

· It is bordered to the north by Boundary Brook and to the south by gardens off Cavell Road and an electricity sub-station. The middle section has a gas main and a water main going through it.


1. Approaching from Donnington Rec. Ground, the first section (approx. 1000 sq. metres) is deciduous woodland with several mature trees, including Aspen, Willow, Sycamore, Hawthorn and Rowan. Some of the Willow trees (and one in particular – see photo below) are extremely large and are shedding branches. There is a large quantity of Willow saplings

2. The middle section (approx. 400 sq. metres) includes the gas main, water main and attendant warning notices and concrete surfaces. There are 2 old Willow trees and one enormous Horse Chestnut, an Apple tree and a Cypress but Willow saplings, brambles and concrete associated with the services dominate the central area. The southern edge runs up to the back gardens of Cavell Road. The boundaries are of variable quality and some residents appear to have discarded garden refuse here.

3. The third section (approx. 600 sq. metres) is mostly Willow saplings and nettles with few mature trees. It is at the narrow end of the triangle. At the end of this area is the locked vehicle barrier, then a track 4m wide and about 20m long to Iffley Road. At the other side of Boundary Brook is the Peugeot garage. On the south side is an electricity substation.

The Proposal

· Establish a pocket nature park and herb garden, which preserves the sanctuary that the area provides for local wildlife, and also ensuring the area is safe, should members of the community, particularly children associated with football, choose to venture in, or should the utility companies require access.

· This small natural space would provide connectivity with the existing and planned areas of natural environment in the locality, being close to wildlife-friendly features on the Recreation Ground, Meadow Lane Nature Park, and the whole of the wildlife corridor along the river.

· Clearance of rubbish & garden waste along a 3-5 metre boundary with Cavell Road gardens, while allowing bramble and other natural barriers to flourish

· The space would be made safe, with the area immediately bordering the recreation ground tidied to remove opportunities to easily slip out of sight and consume drugs/go to toilet.

· To prevent the area from being used as a shortcut or a convenient place for illegal activity, efforts would be made to prevent through passage to the Iffley Road, or to the rear of Cavell Road Gardens.

The Community Woodland would be managed by DTRA under licence from the Estates Dept with regular communication with Estates.

The Process

Autumn 2018:

1. Completed – DTRA leafleted and met residents of Cavell Road to ensure they were kept informed. Aims - get ideas/involve them in the process/get volunteers/sort out boundaries/stop dumping of garden rubbish.

Winter 2018/19:

2. Initiate discussions with the Bristol Street Motors (Peugeot garage) regarding the light pollution caused by its car park floodlights, currently partially obscured by the willow trees in the woodland area, some of which require cutting back.

3. Oxford Direct Services (ODS) team to cut back Willows which are shedding branches and resent a potential hazard to those venturing into the area. This is expected to be one days’ work, depending on how many trees are considered in an unsafe condition. (estimate 1-3 days).

4. ODS to clear away any remnants of the chain link fence and tidy area immediately bordering the recreation ground, removing hideaways and further hazards. Carl’s team to remove excess Willow saplings throughout the area. Also remove trees at the junction with the rec ground, making an open aspect to the area so it is seen as a safe place to enter and enjoy. Leave an entrance at least big enough for a tractor.

5. Carl’s team to remove excess Willow saplings throughout the area.

6. Logs used to create a ‘soft’ barrier to prevent straight passage to Iffley road and the brook. The site would then be safe.

Spring 2019:

7. Get advice from BBOWT and other environmental bodies on preserving inner city nature, e.g. Trap Grounds.

8. Activities to pause in spring to allow for wildlife nesting.

Summer 2019:

9. Once the site is ready, use events, e.g. on Donnington Day (Saturday June 29 2019) as an opportunity to get further volunteers.

Autumn 2019:

10. Autumn 2019 - Plant trees/shrubs/bulbs. Add herb garden, bird boxes etc. Consider reinforcing barriers to the brook, Iffley Road and Cavell Road Gardens.

AL/SR/TH 1.2.19