Derrington Millennium Green, has been a haven for villagers to enjoy nature and outdoor recreation for more than 20 years, as well being home to rare flora and fauna.
Plans have now been put forward to extend the facility and create a new nature reserve after Derrington Millennium Green Trust bought an additional 7.33 acres of neighbouring land which has previously been used for grazing cattle, horses and sheep.
A design statement submitted as part of the change of use application to Stafford Borough Council said: “The proposed extension, known as Pryce Meadows Nature Reserve, will be accessed via the original 11.5 acre Derrington Millennium Green.
“The Derrington Millennium Green Trust would like to preserve this land as flood meadow nature reserve with future emphases on wetland and general conservation. It will include a dedicated ‘wetland’ area that will be fenced off with no general public access.
“However, a viewing area will be situated on the higher elevation ground next to a dividing fence and hawthorn hedge, so that people can observe this area of the reserve. The rest of the reserve will be conservation area with public access restricted to dedicated mown grass paths.
“Most of the new nature reserve forms part of the flood meadow for the Doxey Brook. The design is to preserve and enhance these flood meadows for the benefit of people, nature and the environment.
“No existing trees or hedges will be affected by the proposed change of use. All the existing trees and hedges will be protected and managed to promote longevity and habitat opportunities.”
Visitors seeking open spaces have flocked to the Millennium Green and the Woodland Trust-managed Duddas Wood in recent months as restrictions to control coronavirus have limited travel and leisure activities.
But some villagers are concerned about the increase in vehicles parked on local roads because of the limited parking available at the green.
Keith Jacques, of Church Lane, said the parking was causing “massive disruption to residents.”
He added: “When the original green was envisaged in 1998 it was for the village residents. We now have people driving here from anywhere within a 10 mile radius around Stafford parking in our streets.
“The original planning permission was given with a verbal agreement to use the Red Lion pub car park in the village for locals to use to park. An access was created so disabled people could get from the car park on to the greenway to access the green and wood.
“The Red Lion was sold in 2015 to private hands so both the car park and walking access were lost. A new access for walkers was created in 2015 but nothing done about the car park loss.
“I first contacted the green trustees and our borough councillor in February 2019 about this and after two years of discussions we are no nearer a solution. Seighford Parish Council have been fully supportive of our position but are powerless to do anything.
“Our lifestyle in Church Lane has been turned upside down by the influx of visitor traffic in the last four years. Church Lane is not a car park.”
The Derrington Millennium Green website informs visitors that there are limited car park spaces available and advises them to walk or cycle to the site. Those travelling in by car are advised to park at Castlefields Car Park on Martin Drive, Stafford, which is 1.2 miles away, or Haughton’s Greenway Car Park, which is 2.2 miles away, and cycle or walk along the greenway to the Derrington green.
A spokesman for the trust said work had been taking place to increase car parking space. It was not just visitors to the green parking along the streets, he added, but people visiting the nearby play area and Duddas Wood. And some visitors parking in the streets were unable to walk from alternative parking areas.
The spokesman added: “We are very keen to resolve the situation but we just don’t know how. We want to increase parking and we have increased it somewhat. We are hoping to put some more in.
“We had to put a lot of paths on there for disabled access but we can’t put any more hardstanding on.
“There was a request for a car park outside the village but there are concerns that if it is outside the village no-one is keeping an eye on it and there are some people who litter. Someone would have to close the gate and (the proposed site) is by the brow of a hill – it could possibly cause an accident.”