The past, present and future importance of the River Nene between Northampton and Peterborough will be highlighted by an earmarked grant of £2.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced at the end of October.
The grant is part of the Landscape Partnership (LP) programme. Through a series of projects, Nenescape aims to achieve a well-managed, understood and appreciated landscape that tells tales of times gone by, inspires a sense of adventure, is easy to explore, rich in wildlife and resilient to the pressures of on-going population growth.
Development funding of £208,300 has also been awarded to help the partnership progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. River Nene Regional Park, based in Kettering, has led the partnership work that has secured the ear-marked grant.
Culmination of two years’ work
This success is the culmination of two years’ work by many partner organisations to put together a scheme of projects across the valley that will build knowledge and understanding of the landscape and its history, improve the visitor experience through improved access and interpretation to heritage sites and reduce the threats to and negative impacts on heritage.
Projects will include interpretation and improved access to historically significant sites and restoration of important wildlife sites and will create better connections between both. Over the next few years there will be many opportunities for the local community to be involved in shaping the projects and learning new skills.
A beautiful part of middle England
The Nene Valley is a beautiful part of middle England, extending for around 35 miles between Northampton and Peterborough. It is largely unknown and unexplored, not recognised as a destination for visitors. The countryside has a quintessentially English character and embraces exquisite country houses, wonderful gardens and countless historic curiosities.
The River Nene, an under-utilised natural asset with a diversity of habitats, makes the valley one of the most important inland localities in England for a range of wildlife including kingfishers, herons, otters and dragonflies. Throughout history, the area has been of vital importance to the country’s industries including being a centre for the leather and shoe industry.
Kathryn Hardcastle from the River Nene Regional Park said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. This Nene Valley’s heritage is at risk from changing land use and population growth and this support will allow us to work proactively to protect and enhance the natural and cultural heritage in the valley and to engage communities in the exploration of this beautiful landscape”.
Rich in wildlife and important heritage
Explaining the importance of HLF’s support, Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “Rich in wildlife and important heritage, the Nene Valley already attracts nearly two million visitors a year. It’s also an area that is seeing large-scale changes with new developments and population growth. This National Lottery investment will support a wide range of organisations to work together and help more people explore the fascinating hidden stories and beauty of the Nene valley.”
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