Chat Moss Landscape Partnership Vision

Client: Hamilton Davies Trust                                                                          Location: Manchester

We have recently partnered with the Chat Moss Heritage Partnership to articulate and develop a long-term vision and strategy for Chat Moss, a degraded peatland located on the outskirts of Manchester. The vision includes assets and opportunities within the moss with a view of creating a regional heritage park.

Challenge

Chat Moss is a degraded peatland outside Manchester and has historically been used for intensive peat extraction and farming. Originally one of the most extensive lowland raised bogs in England, large areas have now been destroyed or degraded, leaving small, isolated areas protected as wildlife reserves. As such, the mosses are now a major carbon emitter. However, Chat Moss represents an important social, environmental, and heritage resource for Greater Manchester. As the largest green space outside the centre of Manchester, it has the potential to be a valuable green space for residents. It also acts as a ‘green lung’ for the city.

The natural heritage of the area is very important; many areas of the degraded mosses are undergoing restoration. There are many wildlife sites in the mosses such as the Manchester Mosses Special Area of Conservation which is a unique resource. Chat Moss also hosts important heritage assets from the Bronze Age to the industrial revolution, such as the Manchester Ship Canal. It is an important area in the collective memory of Greater Manchester: as the market garden for Manchester and an important source of employment for several generations.

The area is well known but is now suffering from a lack of cohesive identity and in danger of gradually disappearing from commercial development. The many disparate assets and opportunities within the mosses are not well understood by the local residents. The area would benefit from the assets being joined-up to form a cohesive programme of potential activities and destinations for a day out.

A long-term vision to create a regional heritage park based around the mosslands area has been proposed by a partnership of local organisations. The proposed park would:

• Link current and develop new tourism and leisure opportunities

• Protect, restore, enhance and link up the ecology of the mosslands

• Create opportunities for new farming and land management practices

• Provide opportunities to improve health & wellbeing

• Create employment opportunities

• Increase community pride

Solution

We are working with the Chat Moss Heritage Partnership to articulate and develop a long-term vision and strategy for Chat Moss, with a view to creating a regional heritage park. We have collected evidence of local and national policy and have also spatially mapped the many assets and opportunities within the moss. These include heritage and environmental assets.

As ‘heritage’ means different things for different people, we hosted a stakeholder engagement workshop. This allowed local stakeholders to put forward their views on what they believe to be the important heritage of the area. This information was fed into a draft vision for the mosslands, incorporating issues of land management change for carbon sequestration, water level management, landowner engagement, increasing transport and accessibility options, and physically and digitally joining up opportunities and assets through heritage trails and online mapping. We will soon present the draft vision to the stakeholders in a second workshop where we will consult on their views of the vision and how the vision can be delivered. We will consider potential governance structures and funding opportunities, as well as how to create lasting legacies within the area.

Benefit

This can be used by the partnership to concentrate their efforts on delivering short- and long-term projects and implementing strategic objectives in local policy. The final output of the project will be a feasibility study, outlining a coherent vision. This can be used by the partnership to concentrate their efforts on delivering short- and long-term projects and implementing strategic objectives in local policy. Our work will give the Partnership a base on which to build a coherent identity for the area, which will shape the nature of community projects such as heritage and ecology trails, guided walks, oral and community history projects, and wetland restoration activities.

The feasibility study will give the Partnership suggested actions, policy points, governance structures, and funding sources. This document can be used by the Partnership to gain funding and publicise their vision. The mapping outputs we’ve created can also be used by the Partnership to integrate into future online mapping by the project, in the creation of interactive online mapping where users can create personalised heritage trails.

Want to know more?

For more information on this project contact Emily Prtak.



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