CPRENY Enterprise Award 2021
There is power in community!
This year, for the first time we introduced our Enterprise Award, to recognise an amazing achievement from a community group in Harrogate.
Longlands Common is a community group that fought long and hard against a bypass which would have brought lots of traffic through a tranquil area of the Nidd Gorge and the greenbelt.
The volunteers were concerned about the rate of housebuilding locally, which was also eating into the greenbelt so, when some fields went on the open market they decided to try to buy the land and create a community forest.
In 2016 the greenbelt between Harrogate and Knaresborough faced destruction from a proposed ‘relief road’ that also threatened the Nidd Gorge. A small group of outraged and dedicated local people set up an Unincorporated Association – Nidd Gorge Community Action – to mobilise the community and fight the North Yorkshire County Council proposal that was a part of a wider North of England strategic transport plan.
Five years on from the mobilisation, people power has defeated the roadbuilders, the association has become a Community Benefit Society and the land that was destined to become a road corridor has been bought by the community to create Long Lands Common – a community owned woodland nature reserve – that will help to protect and preserve the greenbelt for future generations and wildlife.
This has all been made possible because they were able to harness the voluntary efforts and talents of hundreds of people in the community who shared their concern, helped the campaign and spread the word in the community – both to fight the road, then sell the community shares.
In the biggest response North Yorkshire had ever had to a public consultation, 12,000 people said no to the road. 3000 people then bought Community Shares in Long Lands Common, raising nearly £400,000 to collectively buy the land and deter future road builders from coming back.
By way of contrast, North Yorkshire County Council spent close to a million pounds on the Harrogate Relief Road Review whilst Nidd Gorge Community Action spent £4000 of crowdfunded donations on the more persuasive Halt the Road campaign* – a demonstration of how powerful local action can be when it is able to draw on the voluntary talents that exist in our communities.
For more information or help with your community campaigning please visit www.longlandscommon.org
* Thanks also to the CPRE for the timely release of the 2017 report: The Impact of Road Projects in England – which they used to their advantage during the Halt the Road campaign!