Rectory Wood and Field, nestled between Church Stretton and the Long Mynd, is the sixth site in Shropshire to be put forward for the designation in as many months.
Shropshire Council says the move would recognise the value of the 25 acre site to both wildlife and residents as well as protecting and enhancing the area’s natural heritage.
Church Stretton Town Council agreed in November 2019 to pursue a local nature reserve (LNR) designation for the “treasured” green space which it has owned since 2015.
As the land in question is not owned by Shropshire Council and its cabinet must delegate authority to the town council to make the designation.
A report to cabinet members by Clare Featherstone, culture, leisure and tourism manager, says: “Rectory Wood and Field is part-woodland and part-meadow. The wood comprises mature native broad leaf species, with supplementary mixed planting; the meadow is on a steep bank adjacent to the wood.
“The site gets its name from being formerly part of the grounds of the old rectory. These grounds were laid out in the late 18th century and have associations with Lancelot (Capability) Brown.
“The well-preserved remains of this landscape comprise woodland walks, a stream and artificial pool, and sites of buildings, which include a pumping house, summerhouse and ice house.
“Rectory Wood and Field provides important recreational open space. The site has full public access by foot and there is a good network of paths.
“It forms an important gateway to the Long Mynd for both the local community and tourists providing a variety of short walks and access to hills beyond.”
Ms Featherstone says the LNR designation would create “opportunities for education, enjoyment and recreation, helping attract visitors and preserving links with the local community’s past” and provide “protection within the planning system from future development”.
She recommends that cabinet agree to delegate powers to the town council which would then seek a declaration from Natural England.
The report concludes: “It is considered that designation of Rectory Wood and Field as an LNR will enhance the sites status within Shropshire as an area for quiet recreation, nature conservation and heritage interpretation, along with offering climate change mitigation.
“Management of the site in future will follow the management plan which will be reviewed on a five-year basis and community involvement with the site will be encouraged through a voluntary group known as Rectory Wood and Field Interest Group, in partnership with Church Stretton Town Council.
“In order for this to take placed it is therefore considered appropriate to delegate the power to designate the land as a LNR to Church Stretton Town Council.”
Cabinet members will discuss the report at a meeting on Monday(29).