Sevenoaks District Council, working with Kent Wildlife Trust and other partners, has received a confirmed National Lottery grant of £483,600 for the Sevenoaks Greensand Commons heritage project, it was announced today.
Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project aims to reinstate the Commons as important and valued spaces for the local community, by working with local volunteers engaged in an exciting programme of practical work, wildlife recording and monitoring, and hands-on learning.
Supported through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the project, including match funding and volunteer time has a value of just over £685,000 and aims to restore the landscape, social and natural heritage of the Commons, improve footpaths and bridleways and clear signage. The Sevenoaks Greensand Commons Project will create and support opportunities for people, particularly under-represented groups, to engage with and use the Commons and increase and share that knowledge. Crucially the project will develop the capacity of local people to take a lead role in the on-going management of some 300ha of Commons, their conservation and promotion of their heritage.
The Commons contain some unusual and rare habitats for Kent and while much of the area is dominated by woodland, there are significant sections of acid grassland and heath habitat which is of high biodiversity value. Steeped in natural and landscape history these jewels are a unique but currently undervalued resource for local communities. For example, Hosey Common includes the former Westerham Mines complex, which is now used by hibernating bats and is nationally important, however more research is required to find out more about how they use the Commons.
A Project Manager has been recruited and there will be the recruitment of an Access and Conservation Officer and a Community Engagement Officer, and it is expected that the project will start this coming autumn. More information will become available on the Kent Wildlife Trust website at https://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/get-involved/our-projects/sevenoaks-greensand-commons
Cllr Matthew Dickins, Sevenoaks District Council’s Cabinet Member for Direct and Trading Services, says:
“With this National Lottery funding, we’ll now be able to crack on with rejuvenating these much loved-commons, opening up their history, flora and fauna and natural beauty for the enjoyment of all.”