North Wessex Downs AONB, Units 3-4, Denford Manor, Lower Denford, Hungerford, RG17 0UN
01488 685 440



Projects 2008 - 2009

The links below will take you to the project item on this page:

Avebury Community Shop

Avebury Community Shop Steering Group received £10,000 towards the establishment of a shop for the community.

The new village shop opened on 15th March 2009.

The community shop is housed in Hope Cottage, on Avebury’s High Street and sells a wide range of groceries, household goods & confectionary. The range of products includes freshly baked bread, home made cakes, eggs and milk. The labour for the shop is being entirely sourced from locals, they work as volunteers to save on running costs for the shop. The shop also received funding from Kennet district Council, Community First SOLVE, Co-operative & Community Finance and Plunkett Foundation Rural Community Shops.

Visit Plunkett Community Shops website for further information.

Avebury Field Walking

Kennet District Council received £3,200 towards the cost of professional archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology, to carry out a field walking exercise on farmland within the Avebury World Heritage Site.

As part of the wider arable reversion project within the WHS, the fieldwalking element aims to ensure that the maximum benefit is gleaned from arable reversion for the both the North Wessex Downs unique, world-class cultural heritage and the local and wider community.

Fieldwalking entails the collection of cultural debris from field surfaces. It makes an important contribution to our understanding of the past activities and settlement in the WHS wider landscape. This understanding feeds into improved interpretation for local people and visitors and the development of strategies for sustainable management. Reversion to grassland, although good for the long-term preservation of archaeological monuments and public access, does mean an end to cultivation and the opportunity for collection. It is therefore the last opportunity for fieldwalking for probably a long period of time.

Visit Wessex Archaeology for further details.

Soil Diversity in the North Wessex Downs AONB

Berkshire RIGS Group received £1,590 to produce a guide to the different types of soil encountered within the North Wessex Downs AONB and examples of locations of these in order that landowners, residents and other members of the public can more fully appreciate the variety that makes up the special landscape.

Soils are often poorly understood but are the link between the underlying geology and the ability to use the land. Landowners and gardeners often encounter very different soils types within very short distances in some areas of the AONB. Within the information leaflet the main characteristics of soils and their properties such as structure, porosity, chemistry other factors that may affect the natural properties and conservation will be described. The link between these properties and the ability to use the land for certain applications is explained as is why it is necessary to protect this in order to preserve the special character of the region.

Visit the Berkshire Geoconservation Group website for further information.

Bradfield Parish Plan

Bradfield Parish Plan Group Funding went towards the publication of the parish plan.

This will give the village future direction for future ideas. The Parish is located in a particularly attractive part of the AONB which incorporates part of the Pang Valley, but which is also subject to considerable pressures for change - due to wider, national factors as well as the proximity of the area to Reading and Newbury.

Against this background, the Plan incorporates a number of objectives and associated specific actions intended to help support and sustain the local community and economy.

For example the preparation of the Plan included a separate questionnaire hand-delivered to local businesses. This achieved a 75% response rate, and the responses were taken into account in the formulation of the Plan's proposed actions.

Visit the Bradfield Parish Website or download the Plan here

Little Hidden Farm – Habitat Management Training for Species

The underlying aim for this project is to restore populations of Duke of Burgundy butterfly on a farm near Hungerford. This would be done by re-establishing coppice management back to a copse adjacent to a grassland field. The coppice management would be done by utilising the site to train the local population in coppice management techniques. By opening up the copse it is hoped that primrose will re-establish themselves which is the food plant of the Duke of Burgundy butterfly.

The SDF grant has gone towards the purchase of tools for the trainees and the cost of the trainer for the trainees. £7,400 was given as an SDF grant matched against a total value of £10.425. In total 5 training workshops were held.

Diversity in Stone

The Oxfordshire Geology Trust and the Berkshire RIGS Group worked in partnership with the 4 geology groups across the North Wessex Downs who represent the 4 counties of the AONB.

The project engaged a wider sector of the community including local environmental & conservation groups (Hampshire Wildlife Trust, BBOWT, Friends of the Kennet & Lambourn Trust, Ramblers Association, County Geology Groups), parish councils, local history/archaeology groups, other special interest groups such as the WI etc.

The aim was to raise awareness of the need for geoconservation in terms of landscape and architecture. Now we have leaflets and exhibition material available, which will explain how such information can be used in local parish planning. A programme of 4 presentations/talks in towns across the AONB, were held followed by guided walks in villages within easy reach of these locations. Simple trail guides were provided for these walks.

This project is of interest and benefit to local communities and visitors alike and will promote the attractiveness of the North Wessex Downs AONB.

Visit the Oxfordshire Geology Trust website, or download the Diversity in Stone leaflet from our website.

East Garston community Shop

The community shop and post office will be used to promote the Lambourn Valley and surrounding areas, through the use of 'soft ' tourism with the aim to provide refreshments for walkers.

The community will also display and sell local arts and crafts and will market the shop as a place where local artists can display their work.

As part of the parish plan the group aim to fulfil the need for a shop within the community.There will a noticeboard in the shop displaying local information on tourist attractions in the area, including farms, sport, game shooting, riding. They will also promote and sell tickets for the Watermill Theatre in Newbury.

Goring and Streatley Hydro-Electricity Power Scheme

The SDF grant went towards the necessary research which has to take place before putting the hydro-electric scheme into operation.

The research is looking at the potential impact that this scheme will have on the ecology of the river. This is a necessary requirement of the Environment Agency before permission can be given to putting a scheme of this type in operation.

North Wessex Downs AONB gave £3,000 towards it which matched £3,000 that the Chilterns Conservation Board has given. The total value of the project is £12,666.50. The overall aim of the scheme is to produce 250Kw of clean sustainable hydro-electricity from the weirs at Goring & Streatley which will power the equivalent of 250 homes. This will be done by installing Archimedes Spirals within the weir which are friendly to fish and eels. This will save more than 800 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum.

Visit the Goring and Streatley Sustainability Group website for further details.

Hampstead Norreys Village Design Statement

The production of a HNVDS document, which describes the distinctive and unique character of the village and its surrounding countryside; which is in a designated AONB will be made available to every member of the parish, the Parish and District Councils.

It shows how the character can be identified by the landscape setting of the village, its wildlife, the shape of the settlement and the nature of the buildings therein.

It also sets out design principles for future development in the village and its surrounding area to protect and enhance their distinctive character.

The final document includes:

Please visit the Hamstead Norreys community website for further information.

Understanding and Conserving Our Canal Heritage

Funding for a Conservation Plan and Interpretation and Heritage Plan.

The restoration of the Kennet and Avon Canal has now taken place but there is no plan of where to take things in the future. There is concern that with cut backs to British Waterways that maintenance and other issues may not happen therefore putting the canal at risk again. The plan seeks to recognise the heritage resource that the canal has and to allocate resources to make sure that this resource retains intact.

The plans will enable financial resources to be allocated according to the needs of the canal. The main focus sites for the funding will be the Museum at Devizes and Crofton pumping station. The museum at Devizes interprets the whole canal with a large length that goes through the North Wessex Downs AONB.

Kingsclere Heritage Association

Funding for this project went towards archaeological research of a particular site within the AONB.

Since 2003 Kingsclere Heritage Association have been working with the University of Southampton on archealogical excavations of the dip slope to the south of the Clere Scarp on the edge of the Hampshire Downs.

To date a Romano/British farm settlement and the Royal Hall built for Henry II at Tidgrove Warren Farm have been identified and excavated. These activities are supervised by the university and staffed by a mix of local volunteers and volunteer first year students. They now form part of a long-term plan to complete a survey of the whole area mainly as part of the university archaeology curriculum.

This year excavations centre on the site of Bowry Walls, a univallate Iron Age Fort at Cottington's Hill, Kingsclere. The fort was largely swept away by the construction of Thomas Cottington's country house which itself is long gone.

Marlborough Climate Pledge

Funding for the project went to raise awareness of climate change issues within the town of Marlborough.

Issues such as carbon footprint recording were addressed using the funds.Origin of food issues have also been addressed in particular by promoting the use of the local allotment. Support local community to learn about growing their own vegetables. This will increase knowledge of where local food comes from.

For further information please visit the Transition Marlborough website.


Royal Berkshire Anaerobic Digestor

Funding was given for consultants to carry out a feasibility study for a digestor based on a pig farm within the AONB. The feasibility study looked at the possibility of using heat generated from the digestor to heat local schools and hospitals. It would also look at the possibility of using methane gas generated from the digestor to power the farm’s delivery vehicles.

There may also be the chance for other farms to use their waste to generate additional methane for use in the area. Farmers could also potentially sign up to using the waste residue as fertiliser as an environmentally friendly alternative within the AONB.

Stanford Dingley Parish Plan

The funding went towards producing the village’s parish plan.

This will help with future work in the village and will give the parish some direction for future ideas as a community. The Parish is located within the Pang Valley, a stunningly attractive part of the AONB. Although there has been little change to the parish in recent years (one new build in the past 30 years) because of the proximity to the areas of Reading and Newbury there could be pressures for change in the future.

Because of this the plan incorporates some objectives to support the local community. The main action of the plan highlighted is the need for a new, larger village hall with car parking on a different site. The intention is to build an eco friendly, green oak, cricket pavillion-type hall on the village owned field close to St. Denys' Church. This will house village and Church activities, much needed for the younger members of the parish, adult eduction courses, concerts, fetes etc. to bring residents together and improve community spirit. Improved access to rights of way and production of a walking/riding map of the area is highlighted on the action plan. Overwhelming support (83% of parishioners) for Rushalls Oganic Farm & Eductional Trust to continue their work with urban children to promote farming and the countryside.

Download the Plan here.

Veteran Trees of Buckleberry Common

The SDF funding went towards production of a leaflet to promote ancient trees and trees of special value to the public.

The Bucklebury community were involved in in choosing 20 notable trees for which they have particular regard which will be managed to prolong their lives so that they become the next generation of Ancient Trees. Britain is particularly important internationally for our ancient trees. Ancient trees are a very valuable habitat for many creatures and are a living link to the history of the countryside.

A leaflet was be designed to be a Treasure Hunt which will encourage families to 'hunt the trees' and in the process get to known their local countryside in more detail. It asks them to answer questions about each tree which will involve measuring and recording. It will also introduce them to recognising the species of trees.

Visit the West Berkshire Countryside Society website for further information or download the leaflet from our Publications section.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust - Fringe Benefits

The funding went towards paying for voluntary work in Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserves and other sites of wildlife importance within the Swindon Borough Council area of the north Wessex Downs AONB.

The project was aimed at volunteers who come from the area’s population who are long termed unemployed, disadvantaged in some way or have health problems.

The volunteering involved training for specific tasks and skills. It has also enabled participants to meet and work with other people and spend time in the country. The second aim is to raise awareness of the special interest and character of this part of the North Wessex Downs AONB by encouraging local people from Swindon, Wroughton, Liddington and Chiseldon to explore, appreciate and learn about its local history, archaeology, history and natural history through a programme of talks and walks using local experts.

This helps local people and their communities to understand how ecology has shaped the landscape of their areas and why there is a need for conservation management. Short walks will introduce people to the interest of a particular site or area whilst longer walks will link together a number of different sites and areas of interest.

Visit the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust website for further details.