HS2 minister announces grant for new woodland hub at Wendover Woods

HS2 Ltd's Peter Miller, David Garnett, Forest Centre Manager, Joanne Mason from the Forestry Commission, HS2 Minister Nusrat Ghani, Neil Kellett, Forestry Commission England and Cathy Elliott, independent chair of CEF and BLEF during a visit to Wendover Woods
HS2 Ltd's Peter Miller, David Garnett, Forest Centre Manager, Joanne Mason from the Forestry Commission, HS2 Minister Nusrat Ghani, Neil Kellett, Forestry Commission England and Cathy Elliott, independent chair of CEF and BLEF during a visit to Wendover Woods

HS2 Minister Nusrat Ghani has announced a £450,000 grant for a new woodland hub at Wendover Woods.

The Government grant will enable a new woodland hub featuring an adventure trail, café and parking for 600 visitors at the woods.

Ms Ghani visited the Wendover Woods Recreational Development project today (Thursday) to see the plans for a £4.45million redevelopment of the site, one of the largest areas of publically accessible open space in the area.

The grant is the largest funding award given to any single project so far from a £40million HS2 Phase One Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF).

Nusrat Ghani, HS2 Minister, said: “HS2 will be the backbone of our national rail network – supporting growth and regeneration and helping us build a Britain fit for the future.

“Whilst we know there will be disruption as we deliver one of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects, we are absolutely committed to minimising the effects of building the new railway.

“It is great to see so many exciting local projects such as the Wendover Woods Recreational Development project benefit from this fund, helping even more people access and enjoy our beautiful countryside.

“Funding such as CEF and BLEF will help to ensure that the legacy of HS2 is shared by everyone for generations to come.”

The HS2 project is set to cut through Wendover and will hamper access to the woods, potentially reducing footfall, according to a study commissioned by Chiltern District Council in 2015.

The first round of funding in January gave more than £245,000 of grants including money towards the renovation of Steeple Claydon Methodist Church.

Cathy Elliott, independent chair of CEF and BLEF said: “This latest round of funding is another milestone for us and I’m delighted to be showcasing the Wendover Woods Recreational Development project to demonstrate how this money can benefit communities along the line of the route for many years to come. “More funding is available for eligible applicants throughout the construction of HS2 Phase One and we look forward to announcing many more funded local projects in the future.”

Joanne Mason from the Forestry Commission said: “Wendover Woods is a hugely popular recreation resource for families living across the Chilterns and further afield.

“This grant from the HS2 CEF fund will enable much needed new toilets, seating and expanded café facilities to be established ensuring that the forest can continue to be enjoyed by future generations.”

HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston said: “As we deliver HS2, we have the opportunity to leave a positive legacy for the communities along the route of the railway.

“Our Community and Environment Fund, and its twin Business Fund, are starting to support important local initiatives, including building renovations and environmental projects.

“We’re encouraging local people to come forward with other opportunities, such as community-led nature projects for people and wildlife which could contribute to the ‘green corridor’ we’re creating alongside the railway.

“This grassroots activity is in addition to the national benefits of HS2, which will rebalance the economy by connecting eight out of our ten biggest cities, increase rail capacity on the current system and reduce journey times, while also creating thousands of jobs across the UK.”