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May 2022

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Published on 23 May 2022

Local opening of new countryside park underway

Summer Sky- Western outlook from Ridgetop park
Summer sky from Ridgetop Park

Exminster residents will be able to enjoy the open space and the wonderful views from the Ridgetop Park when phase one (52 acres) opens on Wednesday 8 June.

Car parking for Ridgetop between Matford and Exminster is being delivered as part of surrounding housing developments, but the first spaces will not be available until later in the summer.

But rather than keep Ridgetop closed until then, it is being opened for people who can cycle or walk to it from nearby Exminster or the surrounding areas.

Walkers or cyclists will be able to enter the park via an entrance at the top of Deepway Lane, by the junction with Old Matford Lane.  Guided Ranger walks are being organised on 8, 9 and 12 June from Exminster to introduce local people to the benefits on offer.

Ridgetop provides a perfect place to just enjoy a quiet stroll or to walk your dog whilst enjoying the incredible views.  The free-to-join Devon Loves Dogs will join the Ranger from time to time, offering “Waggy Walks”, doggy treats and a host of useful information for dog walkers.

The long-term future of Ridgetop Park has been secured through an agreement with the respected land charity, the Land Trust, similar to the one that saw it take on responsibility for running Dawlish Countryside Park last year.

The Land Trust will have the same responsibility for managing the Ridgetop Park site with the goal of helping achieve its aim to improve people’s lives through creating high quality green spaces.

The project has been achieved through the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee – a partnership of Teignbridge, East Devon District and Exeter City Councils, and funding awarded through Devon County Council’s successful bid to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) for the South West Exeter Scheme.

Teignbridge District Council is leading on creating Ridgetop Park as a Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANGS) which contributes to the partnership’s legal requirement to protect internationally important wildlife sites at Dawlish Warren, the Exe Estuary and the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths by providing visitors with alternative places to visit.

The Land Trust will manage the site to create new and enhanced habitats as well as securing long-term benefits such as carbon storage, flood relief and pollinator habitats and support the health and wellbeing of local communities and visitors.

Heritage interpretation will encourage people of all ages to interact and learn about their natural habitats.  Already the wetland area is attracting Kingfishers and toads and this trend will continue as the site is cultivated.

And the expansive meadow areas have been enriched with colourful wildflower patches while retaining plenty of room to roam and for dogs to run.

Ridgetop will open in phases over the next couple of years and until parking is provided, visitors can cycle or walk from nearby Exminster but are asked not to park on country lanes.

Local communities will be encouraged to get involved with the Land Trust in managing sustainability, biodiversity and supporting the site to develop over time.  

When the first phase opens, the nearby Sentry’s Field on the outskirts of Exminster – which was temporarily made available by developers Vistry until the Ridgetop Park opened – will close to the public.

Once fully open Ridgetop will extend to an area of roughly 93 acres.

Executive Member for Planning Cllr Gary Taylor said: “Ridgetop is a fantastic open space for people to enjoy and it is worth walking up the Deepway Lane to enjoy the wonderful views.

“We are really pleased to have reached an agreement with the Land Trust which will use its considerable expertise and experience to manage the Ridgetop effectively, ensuring it has a positive impact on the environment and local wildlife while attracting local people to enjoy its panoramic green spaces.”

Hannah Bosence, Countryside and Greenspace Officer (South West) from the Land Trust said:  “We’re delighted to be involved with Ridgetop; it’s a fantastic open space with some very special views which will allow people to enjoy the countryside. It’s vitally important that our green spaces are well-managed so they can continue to thrive and we will be working closely with Teignbridge District Council’s Green spaces Team, who have excellent local knowledge, in creating a space that complements the area’s heritage. 

“Part of our ‘place keeping’ philosophy is to motivate people out of their homes by using their green spaces as places to interact with neighbours and local people to hopefully forge better relationships. We aspire to work with local groups and businesses to host a range of activities from guided walks, wildlife surveys and skills training. Actively encouraging people to connect with the great outdoors at Ridgetop will help divert pressure away from local, special protection areas.”

Councillor Geoff Jung, Chair of the South East Devon Habitat Regulation Executive Committee and East Devon District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment, said: “I am delighted to see this new area of green space begin to open to the public.  As with the very popular Dawlish Countryside Park, Ridgetop Park will make an enormous difference to highly protected habitats and species at important wildlife sites nearby.  As our population grows, we are taking crucial steps to protect wildlife at the same time ensuring the health and wellbeing of local people by providing new open, green spaces for them to enjoy.”