Some suggestions for developing and enhancing Chaucer Fields as unspoilt space in line with some of the priorities of the current and emerging District Plans, as well as the National Planning Policy Framework, are now available on their blog. For example, the following proposals, all involving only a modest cost but securing major benefits, could easily be undertaken:
- Manage all relevant tree lines properly, so that the potential value of views is fully realised across the full range of positions within, above and around the fields;
- Undertake more regular hedge maintenance, extending systematic care and attention to all the hedges, so important in strengthening the field structure
- Establish a range of information panels on and around the fields, drawing passerbys’ attention to the heritage and environmental significance of this land as the setting both for both the Cathedral, and for the medieval Beverley Farmhouse. (The ‘interpretive panel’ project of the Kentish Stour Countryside project, raising awareness about Blean in and around those woods, could provide an excellent model. Indeed, the panels could cross-refer to one another: the fields have historically been part of the connective tissue between the city and Blean woods, with the ancient path between Blean church and the Cathedral one part of Chaucer Field’s rich network of tracks.)
- Introduce systematic signage to direct people to unspoilt Chaucer Fields, raising the awareness of this space yet further amongst local people and visitors alike. In collaboration with the Council, walking, running and cycling across the fields could be easily integrated into the existing pattern of routes connecting Canterbury and other parts of the District, including Blean and Whitstable. As for road users, public transport through the bus network already brings passengers within easy reach of the fields, and simple measures like re-naming the bus stops close by would foster wider awareness
- Recognise the night-time potential of the fields. Currently, the fields are remarkable in being relatively free of light pollution at night, and an excellent spot for stargazing – yet at the same time being very accessible to many because of the density of housing nearby. ‘Dark Skies Discovery’ status could be sought to encourage appreciation of the night skies.
- Revive and extend the 2008-09 ‘creative campus’ wildflower initiative on the fields at Jay’s corner, cruelly abandoned by University authorities (see http://www.kent.ac.uk/news/stories/wildflower/2009). Why not make it an authentic outreach activity this time round, bringing together the University’s Conservation Society for whom it was so important last time, with local schools and local residents of all ages in a new spirit of co-operative respect for our heritage and environment?