Bid to transform former farm into nature reserve

Jeremy Nettle walking on the Broken Bridges site
Mr Nettle said saving the land is an "exciting opportunity" [BBC]

A former farm could be transformed into a nature reserve, if a public appeal for funds succeeds.

Broken Bridges Nature Reserve Ltd (BBNR), a non-profit organisation, has three months to raise £250,000 to buy the 33-acre site in Salisbury.

The land, known locally as Broken Bridges, encompasses the former Fitzgerald farm, close to the Churchfields industrial estate.

Jeremy Nettle, chair of BBNR, said it was an "exciting opportunity" to restore the land, boost biodiversity, and improve access to the site.

A metal bridge above a river, with a farming shed visible in the background
In recent years the land has rarely been used, aside from a few grazing cattle [BBC]

The land, which is part of the River Avon Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI), is owned by a private trust, that now wants to sell it.

Based between Bemerton and Harnham, the land was registered in January as an asset of community value (ACV) by Wiltshire Council, after an application was supported by 220 people.

If an asset is listed and then comes up for sale, communities are given six months to put together a bid to buy it.

A metal bridge above a river, nestled amongst trees on Fitzgerald farm
The land, known locally as Broken Bridges, could soon be owned by the community [BBC]

Mr Nettle added that the clock is now ticking to bring the land under community ownership.

“What people want to see is the local people giving money, then they [environmental grant giving bodies] will match the funding," he said.

"Once we own the land, it’s fairly obvious from all the applications we’ve made that there will be funding for preserving the biodiversity."

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