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Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Follow-up meeting arranged over St John's woodland plan


Residents will have the chance to find out more about plans to transform an area of under-used woodland near St John’s Church in Llangollen into a 'tranquil' outdoor area at a meeting next week.

On August 26 a number of people living in nearby Green Lane were invited to an open day on the site to hear details of the Green Space project.

This is a joint initiative between the Church in Wales, which owns the land, and members of the Tidy Town Team whose hard work over a number of years has gradually been transforming the wooded site of around 1.5 acres to the point where it can be sympathetically redeveloped.

The plan is being overseen by the Valle Crucis Mission Area, the body which co-ordinates the work of 15 parish churches in the Dee Valley area, with cash from the Green Communities Project match-funded by St Collen’s Church.

According to the Mission Area, the scheme aims to benefit graveyard visitors and neighbouring residents.

If all goes according to plan the new area should be in use by next February, they say.

At the open day the Mission Area’s John Gambles listened as residents, mainly from nearby Green Lane, voiced their concerns about the affect the scheme would have on their homes, a number of which have already been aired on social media.  

Mr Gambles has now arranged a follow-up meeting for Monday September 12 at St John's Church, starting at 6.30pm.

This, he says, is for those unable to attend the open day to "find out more about the project and, hopefully, have their questions answered".  

The blueprint basically means turning a triangular-shaped piece of land between the river, the railway and the cemetery into what Mr Gambles described as a “tranquil area where people can find peace with themselves ... where they can sit, relax and contemplate.”

Also included in the scheme is extending the existed limited car parking area for graveyard visitors by the removal of a privet hedge and the planting of a line of ornamental trees to screen it from the consecrated land set aside for the extension of the burial area, the creation of a small wildflower meadow plus the fixing of posts and chestnut palings along the rider side of the site.

Mr Gambles said that a range of specialist advice had been taken on which trees within the main woodland area should be removed or saved.

There had also been expert consultation of the form the revamped woodland area would take which has meant provision for a small access point from the existing parking area leading onto a walkway – wide enough to take wheelchairs - winding of about 110 metres through the trees to a quiet area with simple oak benches.

The plan had been mooted for some time and over the past seven years the Tidy Town Team had done a large of amount of clearing and tidying of the site.

Residents who attended the open day raised a number of points of concern, including possible anti-social behaviour caused by the opening up of the area – with some pointing out that this was already a problem with alcohol bottles and other rubbish being left strewn about.

There were also fears expressed about extra traffic using nearby Green Lane during the construction period by contractors and how the area would be managed in the long term.

Mr Gambles said that although the budget for the scheme didn’t include provision for its future management, the use of CCTV could be discussed, adding: “We will try to encourage responsible behaviour and we are already working with the police and the schools. A lot of it is up to us a community.”

Addressing residents’ traffic concerns, he stressed that an agreement had been reached with the adjacent railway to use the pathway between its yard and St John’s Church for contractors’ vehicles.

There were questions for Mr Gambles about the level of consultation there had been on the project.

He said that people most affected by it in the area had been consulted as had the Town Council which had agreed with the proposals.

However, he did not rule out further consultation measures including, possibly, the setting up of a Friends of St John’s group to liaise with and update residents as the project progressed.

He stressed that the newly-created area was not intended to be part of the town’s general tourist offering but by people visiting relatives’ graves in the cemetery and by residents themselves.

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