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Older residents of Calver will perhaps remember the former ‘Bird Garden’ in the village, on land behind the Methodist Chapel. Although privately owned, the garden was open to the public on various weekends during the summer months.
The garden was the handiwork of Calver resident Ronnie Pryor, who owned both ‘Brookside’ on Main Street, and the land that is hidden away behind it. The land is, geographically at least, at the ‘heart’ of the village..
On Mr. Pryor’s death in 1984, his former home, together with a neighbouring portion of the Bird Garden was sold. However, the bulk of the land remained in the ownership of his company. Since Mr Pryor’s death, the garden has slowly reverted to nature,
The Parish Council has recently been in discussion with the company, with a view to purchasing the land. We would like to acquire and restore it, in an appropriate and sympathetic way, as a resource for all of the community to enjoy.
Whilst it is unlikely that we would wish to reintroduce the exotic birds, reptiles and monkeys that were once a feature of the garden, we would like to see it used for quiet enjoyment, possibly to include a wildlife preserve.
The owners of the land have been very receptive to our approach – the company is ‘proud to be owned by a Charitable Trust’, and is committed to the local community where it is based. They are provisionally willing to let us acquire the land, on what we consider to be very favourable terms.
Even so, the costs (in both money and time) of bringing the land back into use are likely to be significant. As a small Parish Council, with an annual ‘precept’ of around £7,500, we would not be able to undertake such a project alone. We would need to raise money, and we would need the support of the community to help make it happen.
The Parish Council does have some financial reserves that we would be able to use, but we would also need to raise money from grants and from the community itself. We would probably wish to set up a separate Charitable Trust to manage the project, the land, and the finances.
The Parish Council believes that, with volunteer support, this is an unique opportunity to acquire, restore and protect what was once, and could be again, a ‘hidden gem’ in our village.
Update 1 The Parish Council held an open meeting to discuss the potential acquisition on Thursday 20th April 2017. More than 30 Calver Residents attended, and the proposal received widespread support. As a result, the Council will now enter into more detailed discussions with the owners. It was agreed that, rather than the Council itself owning the land, the village will set up an independent Charitable Trust to manage the project. The Council intends to facilitate another public meeting in the near future in order to take this forward. If you haven’t already done so, please loin our mailing list here to be kept up-to-date on developments by e-mail newsletter.
Update 2 The Council has been given a copy of the original leaflet that was given to Bird Garden visitors on its open days in the early 1980s. To view or download a copy, please click the link below.
Update 3 There will be a public meeting on Thursday 29th June at the Village Hall, Calver, commencing at 7.30pm. The purpose of the meeting is to formally establish a Community Charity/Trust to take forward the acquisition and management of the former Bird Garden as a community resource. Plese come along and show your support for this important initiative.
Update 4 The Public Meeting held on 29th June resolved to set up a Charitable Incorporated Association (CIO) to take forward the acquisition of the Bird Garden, and to manage its future development as a community resource. A small group of volunteers agreed to meet together to develop formal objectives and a constitution for the proposed charity, and to submit a registration application to the Charity Commission.