Rural to the Town

We are embarking on an ambitious undertaking, the Hunsbury Hill Farm Project, to renovate and restore our lovely Grade 2 listed farmhouse, outbuildings and woodlands.

Our aim is to develop the site to make it more useful for the charity and the communities it serves; to serve the immediate communities of East and West Hunsbury; to act as a beacon for rural communities wishing to explore how to develop and augment their assets; and to enhance the events organised by The Barns at Hunsbury Hill.

Two of the major threads through the redevelopment of the site are improving the opportunities for wildlife and ensuring that the site runs as ‘green’ as possible. We are working with the BCN Wildlife Trust to explore how we can improve the site for nature whilst allowing us to also open it up to the public. Of the three ‘open’ areas, the old plantation has a head start. The trees are established, many dating back almost 100 years. There are a couple of ponds that are to be dredged and a water course that needs to be cleared. Adding water to the asset will increase the opportunities incredibly. There are a variety of woodland plants, flowers and fungi on the ground and the wood provides homes for foxes, badgers, muntjac deer and a noisy buzzard.

We have made contact with the Woodland Trust regarding planting hedgerows; we have started thinning some of the timber in the new plantation; and we are discussing with the local authority about access to the old plantation so that we can plan how best to route people through it.

The buildings also offer opportunities for wildlife. The last bat survey found roosts in the Farmhouse as well as potential temporary roosts in the open barns. We shall also be looking to encourage swifts to nest on the taller buildings as part of the national push to provide better homes for them.

It is our intention that the development will make NACRE a beacon of green energy use and environmental sustainability. NACRE is fortunate to own 13 acres and we are going to explore the use of ground source energy, possibly supported by energy gained from our own wood stock. Opportunities for electricity will come from solar power and perhaps wind.

We are pleased to announce that in June 2020 NACRE appointed GSS Architecture to work with us and we shall be submitting an Expression of Interest to the National Lottery Heritage Fund in the autumn. The restoration and improvement of the buildings will allow NACRE to better serve its membership and carry out its core business whilst at the same time making the facilities available to the local community and to visitors from further afield. The core work in this phase of the project will be the restoration of the buildings. One range of hovels and cattle barns require major rebuild as walls and roofs have become unstable and in one case have partially collapsed. These will be repurposed to house the offices of NACRE and provide flexible buildings for a selection of community-based activities and enterprises. The other range of hovels and barns will be developed to extend and improve the conference and wedding business. A new building will replace a barn removed several decades ago that will house the main reception, a museum and a café. The farmhouse will be reconfigured to provide rental accommodation for community groups and the conference/wedding business.

Below is a proposed site plan (dated August 2020)