8 Hills Regional Park
From street trees to local parks, and from woodlands to rugged open landscapes, green spaces provide places for recreation and relaxation. They also provide homes for nature, and essential ecosystem services like drainage to prevent flooding.
The National Trust is working on a project called 8 Hills Regional Park. The aims are to
- Improve access to the countryside for local communities to improve people’s health and wellbeing
- Protect and enhance the landscape, improving wildlife corridors and heritage features
- Create additional income opportunities for farmers to help make farming more sustainable
The proposed 8 Hills area (c.47 square miles) sits on the edge of Birmingham’s southern urban fringe in Bromsgrove District, with the potential to include neighbouring green areas in Birmingham and the Black Country. It is an agricultural / urban fringe landscape that is likely to need to accommodate urban extension development and increasing recreational pressures over the coming years and decades.
The regional park concept is not about preventing development but about establishing a robust plan for the landscape that boosts nature, recreation, active travel and sustainable farming, whilst accommodating potential housing growth.
You can read more about the proposed project here.
What is a regional park?
A regional park is much bigger and more diverse than a country park or a park in a town but smaller than a national park. It's a large area with multiple landowners and uses including farming, recreation, work and housing. The regional park would help to deliver more benefit to people and the environment, by providing a framework for landowners and organisations in the area to work together, and secure additional funds for access and nature.
The name “8 Hills Regional Park” is a working title, and this could change as the plans develop. (We are open to suggestions on the name.)
How will this be delivered?
We are aiming to establish green space equality as a planning principle, ensuring that greenspace and the functions it performs are very important considerations when sites for development are being designed and approved. We are talking to with Bromsgrove District Council about this and are encouraging them to include 8 Hills Regional Park in their local plan.
Alongside the Planning system, 8 Hills will establish a marketplace in ecosystem services. An ecosystems service market means that companies benefitting from the natural environment can provide finance to land managers to ensure those benefits (e.g. plentiful water and clean air) are sustainable. This will ensure farmers and landowners are incentivised and rewarded for making important management changes to parts of their farmland.
Together, the planning and incentivisation elements will lead to greater joining up of habitat networks, enhancement of green infrastructure and improved and more coherent public access.
At present, 8 Hills is an idea that is being discussed with a range of partners, but there is no guarantee that the project will progress beyond this stage. Bromsgrove District Council are engaged with the National Trust on 8 Hills and are actively considering including it in their Local Plan, which is currently being revised. A timescale has not been set for establishing the regional park, but it is likely to take several years.
We are working on proposals for the park and projects that it could deliver. Our recent findings can be viewed in the report here.
Information for developers
We are recommending that Bromsgrove District Council include 8 Hills in their Local Plan, which is currently being reviewed, and BDC are now actively considering this.
The idea behind the regional park is to ensure that any development within the area is planned carefully to provide conservation, access and environmental improvements, for the benefit of people and nature.
Discover more about the proposed 8 Hills Regional Park
Read more about some of the proposals for the park and the projects it could deliver
Evidence Base for the Adoption of a Designated Regional Park in North Worcestershire
A document containing the rationale for the adoption of 8 Hills Regional Park
An overview of the concept of regional parks in England