Woodland to house new business hub

Jan 16, 2009

The East of England Development Agency has allocated the money to the project, which aims to boost sustainable businesses, skills and jobs.

The Greensand Trust’s proposals for the Working Woodland Centre at Maulden Wood near Ampthill include business units and a visitor centre. The scheme will also encourage the sustainable management of Bedfordshire’s woodlands and improve the county’s biodiversity.

EEDA chair Richard Ellis (pictured) said: “Our research showed that only 37 per cent of Bedfordshire’s woodland was being actively managed but demand for local, carbon-friendly wood fuel and timber is growing.

“The Working Woodland Centre could help businesses supply these new markets and be an asset to the local community. As well as creating jobs and attracting visitors, the centre could also be used to improve skills such as environmental management.”

The Working Woodland Centre is a partnership project between the Greensand Trust, the Bedfordshire and Luton Economic Development Partnership, Bedfordshire County Council and the Forestry Commission .

The trust will be applying for planning permission in the New Year for an environmentally-friendly centre, on land owned by the county council. The provisional plans, for which a planning application is expected imminently, also include workshops to encourage businesses, visitor facilities and a new headquarters for the trust.

Greensand Trust chief executive Gill Welham said: “It is fantastic that this project is securing such valued support and investment from EEDA. The new centre will provide much-needed infrastructure and support to rebuild our woodland communities, restore our woodland heritage and create opportunities for local people in a sustainable way.

“The Working Woodlands Centre will also allow more woodland to be managed, which will improve biodiversity by creating and maintaining wildlife habitats.”

EEDA’s award is part of a BLEDP-managed programme to help people in the county take part in the region’s economy.

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