Fauna is a 16-acre site, including pasture and wetland, located in the Fairfield area of Lancaster. It is fringed by the Fairfield Community Orchard, Lucy Brook, the rear of Aldcliffe Road, the foot of Cromwell Road, Carr House Farm and farmland belonging to Lancaster Girls Grammar School (LGGS). This ‘unimproved’ farmland, which is home to a good range of wildlife, especially birds, has been grazed for some years by White Park cattle, a traditional British breed with low environmental impact and many positive benefits.
The Fairfield Association first came up with the idea of protecting the site and turning it into a nature reserve in the early 2000s. There followed a set of complex negotiations between Lancaster City Council and Lancaster Girls Grammar School (each of which owned part of the site), Mr Robin Loxam of Carr House Farm, who rented the land under an agricultural tenancy from both of these owners, the Fairfield Association and the Fairfield Allotments Association, which was in urgent need of space for expansion. Over the next few years the School negotiated with the Council to purchase some of the Council’s holding and for a no-cost ‘swap’ of another section, in order to bring its own scattered holdings into a coherent single area. At the same time the School, the Allotments Association and the Fairfield Association submitted a successful planning application for change of use of the site, to include an extension to the Allotments, a new sports facility for the School, and a Nature Reserve to be run by the Fairfield Association.
Fauna is a mixture of pasture, wet pasture, streamside and bog, with several veteran trees, a fine row of willows along Lucy Brook and old hedgerows which have been restored and replanted. White Park cattle, an ancient and endangered breed, graze both the reed beds and grassland.
Further discussions between the various parties then followed, and in due course the Allotments extension was constructed. Finally, in March 2011 Lancaster City Council granted the Fairfield Association a 30-year lease on the site, on condition that we gave the previous leaseholder, Mr Robin Loxam, a grazing licence to permit his White Park cattle to remain in the fields, which we were very pleased to do. Our rental for Fauna was fixed by the City Council at £1 per year, in return for the creation of a nature reserve as a new and valuable amenity for Lancaster.
Our first task was to undertake a set of improvements, partly for conservation purposes and partly to provide public access via a permissive footpath (shortly to become an official ‘concessionary’ right of way) which links the Orchard and Cromwell Road. The work involved cost well over £100,000, and we gratefully acknowledge the help of many different funders.