Cheshire park residents go wild in bid for green award

Residents at Riverside Park on the banks of the River Weaver will be joining in a series of wildlife initiatives

RESIDENTS at a tranquil retirement park in Cheshire are joining forces with its family owners to create a wildlife wonderland worthy of a major environmental award.

Riverside Park in the village of Whitegate near Northwich has until later this summer to turn its grounds into a haven for birds and animals, including endangered species.

The park will then by visited by inspectors from the David Bellamy Award Scheme to see if its green credentials justify one of its prestigious accolades.

Sam Leigh-Jones, a member of the park-owning family, says the bid is receiving the full support of residents who live at Riverside.

Many, she says, are now introducing bird boxes and feeding stations into their gardens, and planting nectar-rich flowers which will blossom late into autumn.

Couples living on the park enjoy river views from their retirement homes

The park is also sowing its own wildlife meadow which, like residents’ gardens, will provide vital foraging for endangered honey bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

It has also recently been visited by the Mid Cheshire Barn Owl Conservation Group which will be installing a barn owl box, and there are plans to host a bee hive in the grounds.

Sam and her husband Darren have additionally installed a series of floating bird rafts in the River Weaver which runs alongside the park.

Already proving popular with waterfowl, the rafts are known to improve breeding success by providing areas safe from flooding, disturbance of attack by predators.

Numerous native hedging and wildlife-friendly shrubs have also been planted with care taken to select those which will provide habitats for a myriad of wildlife.

Riverside Park was bought by Sam’s parents, Andrew and Gina Thornley, almost four years ago and was given the green light to operate as a residential park.

There are currently 27 park homes in the three-acre grounds, all of which have picture-postcard views of the river and surrounding Cheshire countryside.

Buyers of the homes must be aged 50-plus, and three new super-luxury properties recently installed at Riverside Park cost between £255,000 and £310,000.

According to Sam, many couples chose Riverside as their home because of its quiet, unspoiled surroundings and their love of the natural world:

“There is a great community atmosphere here, and a shared enthusiasm among residents for doing everything possible to help protect wildlife,” she said.

“We are also keen to help the environment in other ways, and all of the homes here have energy and water saving features which minimise both bills and our carbon footprint.

“Careful planning meant that we were able to irrigate the numerous planted areas with the grey water from the new sewerage systems, so reducing our reliance on the mains supply.

“Our family has been involved in the parks industry for over forty years, and we have always been keen to operate along sustainable lines and protect the countryside.

“Everyone here is very excited at the prospect of gaining the David Bellamy Conservation Award, and are crossing our fingers until later this year!” added Sam.

There is more information about Riverside and its nearby sister-park Delamere Grove on the company’s website at www.olympicparkhomes.co.uk

There’s a great community atmosphere among residents says co-owner of Riverside Sam Leigh-Jones

 

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