Go-head to turn former Exeter golf course into £290,000 wildlife haven and arboretum

Nearly £290,000 will be splashed on transforming the former Northbook golf course in Exeter into a wildlife haven.

City council chiefs have agreed to allocate the cash – of which Some £222,000 will come from developer contributions and the remainder from partners.

An arboretum, wildlife habitats and wildflower meadows will be created at the site in Topsham Road,  writes Local Democracy Reporter Ollie Heptinstall.

The land, shut as a golf course in 2019, was initially set to be sold before councillors made a U-turn and decided to keep it as a protected open space for the public.

A consultation last year found that 96 per cent of people who responded supported the idea for a green haven.

Devon Wildlife Trust will eventually manage the site.

The former Northbrook Approach Golf Course. Image: Exeter City Council

The former Northbrook Approach Golf Course. Image: Exeter City Council

A report to the September meeting of Exeter City Council’s executive said: “The park provides a strategic green link between two of our most important green spaces and performs a critical function for the movement of wildlife.

“It represents a natural green infrastructure connection for people to move between parks and traffic free routes into the quayside, Marsh Barton and the city centre beyond.”

The report set out a phased approach, with the first four stages to be completed by early 2024. Long-term management of the site will then begin.

Work to turn the park into a wildlife haven and ‘tranquil community space’ includes improved access and pedestrian and cycle routes, tree planting and meadow and pond creation.

There will be added benches and dog poo bins.

Councillor Duncan Wood told the meeting: “I think it’s really important that we recognise this could have gone in a different direction. This could have been built on. It’s not, it’s being protected.

“More than that, it’s being enhanced and the protection and increase in that biodiversity, planting trees, is all good stuff and it’s all in line with what I hope to achieve within my [climate change]portfolio.”

Executive member for leisure, Cllr Josie Parkhouse, added: “I think it ticks all the boxes when it comes to physical activity and increasing physical activity within the city, so I really welcome this.”

Council leader Phil Bialyk reiterated that the authority has kept to its promise by retaining the site for public use.

Public backing for bid to turn former Exeter golf course into ‘green treasure’ wildlife haven sees council move to proceed with project