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In January 2005, at about the time the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, giving a right to roam on registered common land and mapped open country was taking effect, we had a letter from a vigilant member, Dick Denton. Dick was concerned that there were three pieces of registered common land in Great Brickhill in north-east Bucks, which were the only pieces of access land for many miles around. One of these, known as Poor’s Acre off Heath Road, was surrounded by a high fence and a securely-locked gate, making it completely inaccessible.
It turned out that the land had no known owner so, under the Commons Registration Act 1965, it was in the care of the parish council. Although Bucks County Council, as access authority, was aware that it should take action to make the land accessible, it argued that it had other priorities.
The correspondence continued for many years, with the society writing many letters to Bucks County Council. At last there is a result. Chris Leech, a member of Great Brickhill Parish Council, takes up the story.
Over the past year the Village Improvement Committee, supported financially by the parish council, has been hard at work renovating Poor’s Acre with the intention of creating a pocket park, which will be an amenity for the whole village to enjoy.
Some of the older residents of the village know the site as Sand Hole; it was used as an informal village dump in days gone by. The area seen from the road will be grassed over this spring and picnic benches provided. If you follow the newly-constructed pathways and venture beyond the levelled-off area, the ground quickly drops away into an area of beautiful natural woodland populated by mature oaks, hollies, ash and elm trees with a small glade.
A meandering, circular, 200-metre path has been created, which leads the visitor around the natural woodland. The gradients on the path have been reduced to make the park as accessible as possible to all. In spring the natural woodland is a spectacular carpet of bluebells. The park is frequented by foxes, rabbits and other burrowing mammals.
Future plans include the creation of a small pond in a natural depression, which will further increase the biodiversity by encouraging frogs, toads, newts and invertebrates.