Council to reduce grass cutting at these 17 sites - the list

Grass cutting will be reduced at 17 areas of green space in Newcastle under plans aimed at 'increasing biodiversity'. Newcastle Borough Council is adopting a new grassland management strategy which would see the creation of 'pocket ward grasslands' with more relaxed cutting regimes, at council-owned locations such as The Wammy in Cross Heath and Thistleberry Parkway.

Parts of the listed sites classed as having 'low activity' would only be cut once a year, after the grass has reached 200mm in length, and portions could be turned into wildflower meadows. But paths across the sites, informal sports areas and verges would still be cut every four weeks between mid-March and mid-October.

Council leaders say the new approach will create habitats for wildlife such as insects, improve residents' physical and mental health, while also contributing towards the authority's net zero goals through reduced use of vehicles.

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But a council report acknowledges that leaving areas uncut could be viewed negatively by residents 'as merely a cost saving operation, which makes an area look untidy and unkempt', and highlights the need to maintain 'high quality public realm' elsewhere. Grass cutting on highway verges will be increased from six to eight times a year, while maintenance of sports pitches and lawns will remain the same.

These are the 17 sites which will be subject to new grassland management regimes:

  • Arnold Grove, Bradwell

  • Kingsbridge Medical Centre, Clayton

  • Brampton Vale (Donkey Field)

  • Chatterley Close, Bradwell (already a meadow location)

  • Crackley Field, Crackley

  • Douglas Road, Chesterton

  • Fields behind Guernsey Drive, Westlands

  • Keele Cemetery (already a meadow location)

  • Land behind Leys Drive, Westlands

  • Loomer Road, Chesterton

  • Norwich Place, Stafford Avenue, Clayton

  • Rotterdam Field, Poolfields

  • Sheldon Grove, Chesterton

  • Coalpit Hill, Kidsgrove

  • The Wammy, Cross Heath

  • Thistleberry Parkway

  • Wye Road, Clayton

The council plans to carry out a review and public consultation after two years, and if the new approach is considered a success, it could be rolled out to green spaces such as Bathpool Park, Wolstanton Marsh and Lyme Valley Parkway.

Councillor David Hutchison, cabinet member for sustainable environment, said: "Protecting the natural world is an important part in achieving net zero and it's also proven to boost people's health and well-being. Grasslands are therefore really important. We've already done something similar on fields by Bradwell Crematorium and it’s been a resounding success.

"It's important to strike an effective balance between increasing biodiversity and recognising that some areas, such as highway verges, require frequent mowing for safety reasons and public expectations of tidiness as well as making it easier to pick litter from. A tremendous amount of effort is put into maintaining high horticultural standards – which is consistently recognised at the highest levels by Britain in Bloom – and this will continue as the council develops the new strategy."

Cabinet members are expected to approve the new strategy when they meet on Tuesday, April 23. The report to cabinet does not set out what the financial impact of the new approach will be, other than saying that the management of open spaces is 'fully budgeted for'.