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Hertfordshire County Council

We’ve developed and delivered many land management projects, on sites ranging from small village ponds to large public parks.

Current projects

Cedar Close weir bypass channel

The Cedar Close weir bypass channel project will contribute to the restoration of the river Beane, a globally rare chalk river. The project is a partnership between East Herts Council, the Environment Agency and the Countryside Management Service. The objectives of the project include:

  • To enable fish and eel passage along the river Beane in Hertford.
  • To reduce impoundment of the river and promote natural flow conditions.
  • To enhance habitats along the river channel.
  • To improve Millmead open space alongside the river.


A project update in April 2022 identified that removal of Cedar Close weir was under consideration. However, following the collection of additional survey information to inform our flood modelling, we have concluded that there are too many risks associated with this option to proceed further with it. These risks include the need for mitigation of a small increase in downstream flood risk, and the impact on water levels in the mill stream.

We have now confirmed that our preferred option to achieve the objectives of the project is a bypass channel within Millmead open space. The details of this proposal are summarised in the Cedar Close weir project engagement document.

Active travel

The Active Travel project recognises the value of Hertfordshire’s 3000km rights of way network, identifying paths that could be improved to enable everyday active travel. It also builds on the well-established relationships we have with our district partners to identify active travel opportunities on land that they own.

The focus of the project is to identify and prioritise schemes that will increase the shift from motorised to non-motorised transport and where improvements can be achieved quickly. We have specified, costed and delivered a number of schemes, and we have developed a portfolio of schemes for strategic routes which could be delivered in the future with further work or investment.

Recent projects delivered include:

The Active Travel Project is funded for two years until October 2023 by Local Transport Plan's (LTP4) Sustainable Transport Fund. LTP4 defines 'active travel' as physically active journeys such as walking or cycling, representing safe and efficient non-motorised transport. The benefits of active travel are well documented in LTP4.

Two male cyclists on a country path

Castle Park, Bishop's Stortford

We have been leading on the major redevelopment of Castle Park in Bishop’s Stortford. Initially, we obtained funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to develop the designs back in 2016, and then obtained further funding to move to delivery in 2018.

Among the plans of this £3.8m project we will see:

  • the reinvigoration of the River Stort, improving its habitat and public access
  • the remnants of Waytemore Castle will be protected and promoted as a major part of the landscape
  • a new café will establish a hub location in the park for people to meet, and provide sustainable means for operating public toilets
  • relandscaping will create a more functional space, with a new area for events, habitats for wildlife and improved ways to promote the town’s heritage
  • better recreational facilities including a revamped skate park and tennis courts
  • the Friends of Castle Park have been established and regularly volunteer in the park, as do the volunteers for Hertfordshire Health Walks and parkrun which have both been set up in the park as part of the project

Construction work started in 2022 and the majority of works will be completed by late 2023.

Throughout the project we have been working in close partnership with the landowners East Herts Council and Bishop’s Stortford Town Council, whilst also closely liaising with various consenting organisations such as the Environment Agency and Historic England.

Concrete being laid as part of improvement plan to skate park
Concrete laid on skate park as part of the improvement plan.

Volunteers removing Himalayan Balsam from the River Stort
Volunteers removing Himalayan Balsam from the River Stort.

Reviving disused railway routes

There are miles of redundant railway lines across Hertfordshire, which have the potential to help people to travel without using their cars.  

We have been working on projects to revive disused railway corridors for both people and wildlife. Projects undertaken include the St Albans sections of the Alban Way, the Nickey Line between Hemel Hempstead and Harpenden, and the Cole Green Way, which links Welwyn Garden City with Hertford.

On the Cole Green Way, we have resurfaced the three miles of the route owned by the county council while improving interpretation and signage, enhancing habitats along the route and restoring the former site of Cole Green station.

On the Alban Way, we have secured more than £165,000 of funding towards improvements. Works have included resurfacing, access improvements, vegetation management, restoration of old historic features and installation of signage and interpretation panels.

 Non-motorised transport corridors

Broxbourne Woods National Nature Reserve

Broxbourne and Bencroft Woods form part of Hertfordshire's only National Nature Reserve.

We have managed these sites since 2009, focusing on finding a balance between enhancing the valuable wildlife habitats and encouraging recreational use. We have:

  • reintroduced elements of commercial forestry
  • developed and delivered a long-term project to restore an area of heathland / wood pasture through conifer removal and grazing
  • enhanced the visitor experience through footpath and car park improvements and an easy access sculpture trail
  • secured investments from the Forestry Commission, Natural England and SITA Trust, including funding through the Countryside Stewardship scheme
  • enabled volunteers to contribute extensively to the management of the woodland
  • used the site as a model for woodland management with far reaching benefits to other woodlands across Hertfordshire.
  • developed a risk-based approach to management of Oak Processionary Moth

Broxbourne Woods National Nature Reserve

Waterford Marsh

A breach in a weir at the southern end of Waterford Marsh back in 2019 established opportunities to enhance the River Beane to good chalk river habitat. We have been working in partnership with the Environment Agency and in early 2023 delivered a series of interventions along the river to improve the habitat. A 330m section of concrete embankment was replaced with a natural riverbank, wetland scrapes were expanded, a second small weir was removed and a series of berms and deflectors were installed in the channel to improve the flow conditions. 

Before and after photo of the concrete bank removalBefore and after photo of the concrete bank removal.

Following these habitat enhancements, we continue to work with the Environment Agency and with local stakeholders to determine the best route forward for the breached weir, to protect the interests of both wildlife and people.

One of three flow deflectors installed within the channel.
One of three flow deflectors installed within the channel.

Green space opportunity audits

In summer 2020 and 2021 we carried out green space opportunity audits for all the district and borough councils in Hertfordshire. The audits aimed to identify opportunities for simple ecological gains on smaller parks and green spaces without bespoke management plans.

These opportunities included:

  • changing the grass cutting regime to create areas of long grass

  • sowing wildflower seeds

  • planting bulbs

  • establishing woodland

  • planting hedgerows

  • planting individual standard trees

  • creating new ponds

Delivery of recommendations from the audits has started. In autumn 2022 wildflower meadows were established on 20 sites and 1.3km of hedgerows and over 2000 trees were planted.

Past case studies

Broxbourne Woods Restoration Project

Around 97% of Hertfordshire's heathland has been lost in the last 100 years.

Our wood wardens and practical conservation volunteers have maintained two small healthy glades in Broxbourne Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest. This project aims to secure their future and restore a significantly larger area to heathland and grass.

Over 15 years from winter 2011, we aim to gradually remove trees to create a more open, wood-pasture feel. We'll fell trees every second year and manage the resulting regrowth during the alternate years. We'll introduce a small number of British cattle to graze the developing heathland and acid grassland.

Project timeline and more information


Bentsley Spinney welcoming woodland wildlife project

Working in partnership with St. Albans City and District Council, we secured the following grants for a programme of improvements at Bentsley Spinney:

  • £15,637 from the Lafarge Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund
  • £1,100 from Sandridge Parish Council
  • £500 from Hertfordshire County Councillor, Geoff Churchard’s locality budget.

Between June 2015 and May 2016, we delivered the action plan items outlined in years one and two of the Bentsley Spinney Greenspace Action Plan 2014 – 2019.

Project timeline and more information

Bentsley Spinney

Bovingdon Green Pond

Bovingdon Green Pond was in a poor state of health, shaded by dense vegetation and filled with silt and debris.

In 2010, with the help and sponsorship of a number of organisations, we started a project to rejuvenate the pond and return it to a wildlife-rich environment by:

  • clearing vegetation
  • dredging the pond of all silt and leaf litter
  • building a footpath and steps to the pond
  • installing wooden bollards along the roadside boundary
  • installing two new benches.

Project timeline and more information

Pond reshaping Bovingdon Pond

Broxbourne & Bencroft Woods – car park refurbishment works

We developed plans for a major refurbishment of the car parks at Broxbourne and Bencroft Woods National Nature Reserve.

The works were completed between August 2013 and February 2014 with funding from Hertfordshire County Council and the Forestry Commission.

Project timeline and information

Car park at Broxbourne

Butt's Close Pond, Hitchin

Everything’s blooming at Butt's Close in Hitchin now it's been given a thorough makeover. The pond has been transformed from a characterless hole in the ground to a wildlife haven by:

  • creating shallow edges and planting them with attractive species like water mint, marsh marigold and purple loosestrife
  • installing a floating hydroponic reed bed filter to improve water quality by removing nutrients
  • cutting and collecting grass around the pond annually, to allow it to grow longer
  • pollarding two nearby willows to create vigorous new growth and extend their life
  • reducing and reshaping the crown of a nearby weeping willow to cut down the shade and leaves that it casts on the pond
  • planting new native tree and shrub beds to provide cover and food for birds.

The work was funded by North Hertfordshire District Council and the Landfill Community Fund through Groundwork Hertfordshire.

Project timeline and information


Composers Park in Harmony project

With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Hertsmere Borough Council, we completed a programme of improvements in December 2014

After receiving positive feedback from a consultation with the local community, we gave this site a much needed conservation boost by:

  • installing a new interpretation panel
  • hiring local artists to create a specially-designed gateway
  • planting hedgerows
  • creating a new pond
  • thinning trees in crowded areas
  • building natural play equipment.

Project rationale and project works map.

Project timeline and information


Home Wood, Cuffley

Northaw and Cuffley Parish Council approached us for advice on the care and management of this ancient, semi-natural woodland.

We helped the parish to write and review a management plan to care for Home Wood, enhance its wildlife value and promote it as an open space for quiet enjoyment.

We also helped them to apply for various grants, including the Forestry Commission's English Woodland Grant Scheme. Under this scheme, the parish claims an annual grant for path cutting, tree safety inspections and other conservation work. These grants have helped to pay for:

  • boardwalks along muddy pathways, to provide year-round access for visitors
  • removal of invasive sycamore to favour regeneration of native broadleaves like oak and hornbeam.

Project timeline and information

Men on wooden walkway Home Wood

Oughtonhead Common wetland creation and restoration works

Between January 2014 and June 2015, we completed a range of wetland enhancement works on behalf of North Hertfordshire Distric Council, to restore this habitat for wildlife and improve access for visitors.

Using funding from various organisations, we:

  • created a new interpretation and viewing platform
  • installed an archway sculpture
  • removed reeds from sections of the river
  • created new ponds
  • cut back scrub from ditches and removed silt from ditches.

Project timeline and information

Oughtonhead Common entrance sign

Pix Brook watercourses project

In October 2014, we completed a project to improve the watercourses of the Pix Brook, which flows through Norton Common Local Nature Reserve in Letchworth.

The watercourses were heavily shaded with steep bank edges, channel blockages and an outdated concrete infrastructure.

We have reduced erosion and flooding, enhanced biodiversity and improved access for visitors by:

  • cutting back overhanging trees
  • removing concrete from the watercourse
  • planting marsh marigold, iris and loosestrife
  • reprofiling the bank edges and reinforcing them with gabion baskets
  • creating pedestrian and vehicle bridges.

Project outline and map of project locations.

Project timeline and information

Practical volunteers planting wetland plants at Pix Brook, Norton Common

Purwell conservation project

In December 2014, we completed a £58,400 project to help North Hertfordshire District Council meet their Green Infrastructure objectives by:

  • improving wetland habitats
  • restoring hedgerows and damaged fencing
  • reprofiling riverbanks
  • installing facilities to assist birds, wildflowers and grazing animals
  • improving access points and installing new signage and interpretation panels

Project rationale and project works map.

Project timeline and information

Wildflowers and river Purwell Meadows

Verulamium Park access & interpretation project

Between 2013 and 2015, we worked with St Albans City and District Council to help visitors find their way around the park and learn about Verulamium’s history and wildlife. Contracted works included:

  • installing distinctive black and grey fingerposts
  • creating full-colour map-based information boards
  • installing a number of interpretation panels across the park
  • making a new leaflet for visitors.

Project timeline and information

Verulamium Park

Weston Hills project

This project was completed in August 2014.

Weston Hills in Baldock is a county wildlife site with a lovely mix of habitats, including beech woodland and chalk grassland, which is a priority biodiversity action plan habitat for the county.

We worked with Hertfordshire County Council's Rural Estate and North Herts District Council to develop and implement a 5-year management plan, aiming to restore these habitats and make improvements for visitors, including:

  • creating new steps
  • installing interpretation boards around the site
  • building new fences
  • introducing sheep and longhorn cows for grazing
  • thinning and coppicing trees.

Find out more about the project:

Project timeline and information

Longhorn cows Weston Hills



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Contact the Countryside Management Service

01992 588433

Countryside Management Service (Postal Point CHN101)
County Hall
Pegs Lane
SG13 8DN




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