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Community Action on West Berkshire Council Open Space

Advice for community groups interested in environmental improvements, such as tree and bulb planting, on council owned land.

West Berkshire Council owns dedicated open spaces in the district such as Northcroft and Goldwell Parks in Newbury and Linear Park in Calcot. In addition, the council owns pockets of green spaces within towns, villages and residential estates.

We are aware that an increasing number of community groups and residents are keen to enhance their communities with environmental improvements such as tree and bulb planting, often on council owned land. We hope the following advice will assist you.

We all know that achieving carbon neutrality requires a multi-faceted approach and for us all to play our part. One way to tackle climate change is through 'carbon sequestration', the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide - tree planting is an example of this. Please see the Council's Environment Strategy for more information.

Tree planting also adds to the character and biodiversity of our district. In addition, spending time outside in natural surroundings has been proven to have a positive impact on both our physical and mental wellbeing.

What we can help with

If you are interested in carrying out a community planting project, we are able to provide the following service:

  1. We can advise if the site you have identified is owned by the Council and if planting is appropriate - for example, planting on our open spaces should be limited to maintain adequate space for people to engage in leisure activities such as dog walking (we can only provide advice on planting on West Berkshire Council owned land, any requests to plant on private land must be made to the land owner)
  2. We can advise on the potential impact of any planting on the community and we may suggest you carry out consultation with nearby residents/businesses
  3. If the land appears to be suitable for planting and you have the foundation of a project we can support, we can carry out 'utilities checks' for underground services such as gas pipes and electric cables - if these checks are clear and planting goes ahead, you will be advised to provide an additional check by scanning the ground with a 'Cable Avoidance Tool' (CAT) scanner before any planting takes place
    (this may not be necessary if the utilities checks are clear and you are only using hand tools)
  4. We can provide advice on the type of species that would be most suited to the site and information on the density of planting and any special requirements
  5. Budget permitting, we can provide trees for your project, subject to the successful completion of the stages above
  6. We will inform you that the future maintenance of the trees, including watering will remain the responsibility of the community group or individual

Each project request will be considered on its own merits before permission is given by the Countryside Team.

Unfortunately, the council does not have the resources to assist with the tree planting part of your project. Therefore you should ensure you have adequate resources (both people and tools) to ensure you can carry out your planting safely. You should also consider your insurance needs and having a risk assessment in place.

For further information, please contact Jo Watt, Countryside Officer - Community Co-ordinator.

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