Forestry Commission finishes four-year Belfield project

Michael Hunt

The Forestry Commission has completed landscaping work at the Belfield community woodland, near Rochdale.

The former brownfield land is located to the east of Rochdale town centre, between the River Roch and Rochdale Canal.

The North West Development Agency granted £1.75m towards the four-year project through the Newlands programme, a partnership between the Forestry Commission and NWDA to regenerate the Belfield's disused landfill sites.

The Belfield community woodland, off Belfield Lane, includes cycle paths, riverside walks and a fishing lodge.

Tim Oliver, the Newlands programme manager from the Forestry Commission, said: "The Belfield project is really important to the ongoing regeneration of Rochdale, providing a wide range of social, environmental and economic benefits.

"The regeneration of the site will help turn the area into a greener, cleaner and more attractive space for local people to play, live and work. It will also help develop links to the national cycle network and continue to develop links to the ongoing regeneration of east central Rochdale."

The NWDA is also providing resources to keep the Belfield Community Woodland maintained for the next 20 years. The Forestry Commission will manage the woodlands it creates at Belfield for a further 79 years, securing nearly 100 years of management for the areas' community green space.

Richard Tracey, head of environmental quality at NWDA, said: "This new strategic green infrastructure resource will add health and well being benefits to the economic drive to enhance the adjacent Housing Market Renewal areas."

To support this work, additional funding from Biffaward and the European Regional Development Fund has been secured for the Belfield community woodland project.

A number of local partners, including Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, Groundwork Oldham and Rochdale, Pennine Edge Forest, Housing Market Renewal, Sustrans and BTCV, an international volunteering organisation supporting conservation initiatives in the UK, are also involved in the project.

Belfield is one of seven Newlands projects currently being developed in the region.

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