Putting people at the heart of planning – National Trust reaction to Farrell Review

See below for the reaction from the National Trust to the report published today by Sir Terry Farrell (you can read the full report via http://www.farrellreview.co.uk/download):

Ingrid Samuel, Historic Environment Director, said: “Sir Terry’s report is very compelling. We hope it will lead to a new recognition of the importance of beauty and the spirit of a place in new developments, and ensure that fewer inappropriate schemes get the go-ahead.

“It is crucial that, when we are planning new housing and other buildings in a community, we start from an understanding of what people love and value about that place, and ensure any new development is sympathetic to the local context it sits in.

“We hope that many of the Review’s practical solutions will be taken forward by Government, including his call for proactive planning for design, reducing VAT on retrofitting, and appointing design experts at central and local level.”


Change the clocks and give yourself some more wild time

To celebrate the arrival of British Summer Time and the first day of spring, The Wild Network is encouraging parents to use the extra hour of daylight to take the kids outdoors and get some more ‘wild time’.

Children playing at Belton House, Lincolnshire. Credit NT Images

Children playing at Belton House, Lincolnshire. Credit NT Images

During the colder winter months the battle to get our children away from their gadgets can be a challenge, but with the arrival of spring it’s time to reunite them with the outdoors.


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Recognising the heroes connecting young people with nature

Today marks the start of a two month search for the heroes connecting young people with nature across the UK.

The Wild Network and BBC Countryfile Magazine are spearheading a search for the volunteers, professionals and groups who are committing time, energy and resource to sparking young people’s interest in nature and the outdoors. Continue reading

National Trust garden gems to feature in new BBC 4 series

Three National Trust gardens are set to feature in a new BBC 4 series uncovering the rich social and horticultural history of four British heritage landscapes in April.

The Parterre at Biddulph Grange Garden. Credit Stephen Robson

The Parterre at Biddulph Grange Garden. Credit Stephen Robson

The four-part series, British Gardens in Time, explores the grand Georgian landscape at Stowe in Buckinghamshire (NT), Biddulph Grange, a superb example of a Victorian garden in Staffordshire (NT), the romantic turn-of-the-century Nymans in West Sussex (NT) and Christopher Lloyd’s dazzling 20th century garden, Great Dixter in East Sussex which is privately-run. Continue reading

Music to Tweet To


A leading UK beatboxer has vocally recreated the nation’s best-known songbirds to celebrate the sounds of spring and encourage the nation to get outdoors and experience nature first hand.

The album of tweet music was commissioned by the National Trust after academic research found that listening to  birdsong, one of the Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾, not only makes people calmer but boosts positivity.Three quarters of Brits (75 per cent) also felt more connected to nature in spring while the sounds of spring bring back happy memories of childhood for over half the nation (57 per cent).

Beatboxer and vocal sculptor Jason Singh visited National Trust places for inspiration before creating the album, which features birds and wildlife including Blackbirds, Robins, Woodpeckers, Crows, Skylarks, Owls, Warblers, Buzzards, Frogs and Crickets.

Singh explained, “I love the magic of spring, particularly at Tatton Park which I have been going to for years. When the silence of winter comes to an end, you can feel a real sense of change as the parkland erupts with noise, bursts of colour and new life. This is what makes spring so special for me and it’s this that I really wanted to capture in this project.

 “It was important to me that the bird calls and environments I recreated were as life like and authentic as possible, so it was great to work with the National Trust’s nature experts to better understand the flora and fauna of spring.”

 Listeners are set to find the new National Trust soundtrack a soothing experience after a recent psychological study found that natural sounds have restorative qualities. The study found the call sounds of songbirds and other sounds of nature help people recover much quicker from stressful scenarios compared with the noise of urban living.

 University of Surrey Environmental Psychology PhD student Eleanor Ratcliffe, who is working on an ongoing study with the National Trust into the psychological impact of birdsong in people’s lives added: “It makes sense that people should find birdsong calming. Songbirds tend to sing when it is safe, and it makes evolutionary sense that we should feel calmer in a safe natural environment.”

 In a poll of 2,000 people, the National Trust found that 42 per cent of those living in cities often feel ‘starved’ of nature, with almost one in five (19 per cent) rarely hear birdsong with 19 per cent of city dwellers regularly woken up by the noise of cars or planes. In addition, over a third (35 per cent) have noticed a decline in the variety of birds they see in their area with continued building on Britain’s green spaces a major worry for 70 per cent of those questioned.

 According to the research 42 per cent consider spring their favourite season with 77 per cent stating that they feel more optimistic during this time of year.

The nations top ten spring sounds

  1. Birds singing (69 per cent)
  2. An early morning ‘dawn chorus’ of birds (60 per cent)
  3. Tinkling stream (43 per cent)
  4. A babbling brook (40 per cent)
  5. April showers (37 per cent)
  6. Lambs baaing (37 per cent)
  7. Bees buzzing (34 per cent)
  8. Wind rustling the trees (33 per cent)
  9. Lawnmowers cutting grass for the first time this year (33 per cent)
  10. Baby chicks chirping (29 per cent)

Matthew Oates, National Trust wildlife and nature expert added, “With 45.7 million of us now living in cities, we wanted to produce a unique piece of music that would bring the wonderful sounds of spring  to everyone – no matter where they are! By developing this in a quirky, creative way, we hope our album of tweet music inspires families and kids to have fun in the outdoors this spring and enjoy all the benefits that the sounds of nature can bring.”

 As part of its role in the Wild Network, the conservation charity has also highlighted some of its top places to spring spot this March and April in a drive to encourage more children to get outdoors and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature:

  1. Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire. Listen to a spectacular dawn chorus of birds in springtime at Mottisfont. This atmospheric 13th century property has its very own spring sound experience for visitors too!
  2. Tatton Park, Cheshire. This vast wild parkland is home to a deer park and an incredible 19th century mansion. Head to Tatton for misty spring mornings and listening out for the pitter patter of April showers.
  3. Biddulph Grange Gardens, Midlands. The colourful spring blooms and greenery at Biddulph make this spot the place to hear honeybees at work.
  4. Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire. Come to Hardcastle Crags to listen to the soothing sounds of babbling brooks and the tweets of baby birds. Be sure to tackle some of the site’s nature trails in April.
  5. Brockhampton Estate, Herefordshire. A beautiful spot to listen to the sounds of baby lambs baaing at this beautiful parkland Herefordshire. On 22 April, Brockhampton will host Family Den Building Day – a chance to have fun learning survival skills.
  6. Batemans, Sussex. From robins, rooks and blackbirds – take a sensory walk through the wooded landscape of the Sussex Weald.
  7. Sheringham Park, Norfolk. Rarer chiffchaffs can be heard chirping within the varied woodland habitat of Sheringham Park. Tick some 50Things activities off your bucket list and learn how to track wild animals on 9April.
  8. Polesden Lacey, Surrey. Home to the great tit and song thrush, Polesden Lacey is in the rolling Surrey Hills just outside the M25. Head here on selected dates in April to climb in tree canopies with an instructor and zip wire, if you’re feeling brave!
  9. Quantock Hills, Somerset. Wonderful walks can be had here with incredible views of valley woodlands and hilltops. Listen out for the beautiful Skylark here.
  10. Sugar Loaf & Usk Valley, Wales. The peaks and valleys of this dramatic region are a prime place to hear tinkling streams and spot swooping birds of prey. Join NT rangers for a family adventure in St Mary’s Vale on 19 April and tick off some 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾.

 Listen to the tweet music : http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1355829452961/

Or you can download it direct from Jason Singh’s website: http://thesinghthing.com/2014/03/20/national-trust-commission-tweet-music-celebrating-the-sounds-of-spring/

National Trust reaction to Sir David Higgins ‘HS2 Plus’ report

Ingrid Samuel, Historic Environment Director for the National Trust, said: “No-one wants unnecessary costs associated with HS2 so we welcome measures which bear down on avoidable spending. But HS2 is a once in a lifetime project so it’s important that this doesn’t mean compromising on quality. It’s vital that local concerns continue to be heard, that the impacts of the railway are properly addressed and that the best solutions are found for the people and places affected. HS2 mustn’t end up cutting corners at the expense of the environment.”

Puffins return early to Farne Islands

Puffins have started to return to their breeding grounds two weeks early thanks to the milder spring temperatures.

Puffins on the Farne Islands, Northumberland

Rangers on the Farne Islands reported sightings of over 500 puffins on the island just yesterday. It is thought this could be one of the earliest sightings on record.

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