Site meeting : Loughton Millennium Meadow

© Copyright Malcolm Campbell

At 8.15 this morning I met with Chris Carvell, a Neighbourhood Management Officer from Milton Keynes Council, and Wayne, a Milton Keynes Council horticultural officer (who lives in Loughton) at the Millennium Meadow in Loughton

The Millennium Meadow was designed to be a wildflower meadow and it is owned and managed by Milton Keynes Council. A wildflower meadow needs regular maintenance. Wayne explained to me what is required: every 3 years the area needs to be completely rotavated and re-seeded in about March. This means that the wild flowers grow through to the summer months when there is a riot of flowers and colour. In the summer the weeds need to be sprayed and/or pulled out to reduce them seeding. In the autumn then the flowers need to be cut down and tidied up. Then the following 2 years the flowers should re-appear in the spring without the need for re-seeding but in the 3rd year the area will need rotavating and re-seeding again or else the grass and the weeds take over and the flowers are eliminated

Unfortunately Milton Keynes Council have not done the re-seeding of the wild flower meadow for several years. Chris explained their budgets were being cut all the time and unfortunately they now had to find a lowest cost option. The cheapest option in the Millennium Meadow would be to limit the maintenance to occasional hedge and shrub cutting and monthly grass cutting. Recently the Millennium Meadow was cut back so it is now looking tidy but it is not now the wildflower meadow it was intended to be

With a contribution from the Parish Council however, the Millennium Meadow could be restored to a wildflower meadow. The Millennium Meadow is close to Loughton School and we discussed the possibility of arranging for the children to plant the seeds in the spring. Wayne said this had been done elsewhere in Milton Keynes and the children had really enjoyed it. This might be an exciting activity for them and they would enjoy seeing the wild flowers grow into the summer. We discussed the effect the wild flowers would have on biodiversity – attracting butterflies, bees, birds and small mammals. Some of the shrubs planted are not suitable and it would be good to remove them and plant fruit trees instead. We agreed that Wayne would work out some options and Chris is keen to develop a 5 year plan so that the area receives regular and careful maintenance.

There are some wooden benches and tables which were installed by DW Bodleys & Sons in Bradwell Road. These could do with being rubbed down and treated to keep them in good repair and to stop them from rotting. This is something which possibly the Neighbourhood Action Group could do, with support from the Parish Council.

The work in rotavation and seed planting would take 4-5 people about a day’s work.

Chris and I agreed we would discuss the proposed plan and the costings. The current indications are that a modest level of planting might cost approx £1,200 – so this seems to be affordable for the Parish Council to make a contribution to restore the  Millenium Meadow to its original design.

Some “interpretation boards” could be erected to enhance the enjoyment of the area by explaining the species of plants that had been planted in the wildflower meadow, and explaining what to look for in the enhanced biodiversity the planting creates.

The photo above is © Copyright Malcolm Campbell