Maybush Copse, Chidham, West Sussex 

>> Stephen Johnson, Maybush Copse Friends Group: 
The land had been derelict for quite a long time. It was originally a brick field and then a landfill site. It came up for sale in 2008. It seemed a wonderful opportunity for the community. I thought it would be good to try and get people together to see if we could buy the land.  

>> Nicky Horter, Chichester Harbour Conservancy: 
I’m their countryside officer at Chichester Harbour. We were really able to bring in the expertise to help guide the community through the process.  

The Chichester Harbour Trust is the organisation in Chichester Harbour set up for the pure purpose of buying land to safeguard it, so that was the vehicle through which we were able to purchase the land and then the trust signed it over to the conservancy to be able to manage it, and we’ve got that relationship across lots of different sites And then we set up the partnership with the Friends of Maybush Copse who are the local community group, who really take a very active role in looking after the area.  

>> Stephen Johnson: 
We had a campaign to raise a lot of money and we did manage to purchase the site. 

>> Nicky Horter: 
From the start of the project to where we are now, the change has been phenomenal. Looking around the site today, if you think this used to be a piece of wasteland...  It was a brick field and then it was a caravan site. I think taking on a piece of land that does have a history of contamination in the past, that presented quite a lot of obstacles that had to be overcome but we got through it and came out the other end and it’s been absolutely well worthwhile. 

>> Clare Mansell, Maybush Copse Friends Group: 
I think it has an enormously important community aspect to it because people need somewhere where they can meet their neighbours and socialise with their neighbours and if you don’t have somewhere like this you often don’t meet the people that you live with, so it has provided us with a way of socialising with our neighbours and building those connections in the community.  

The local school do an all-school walk every half term where they bring the kids out and walk them round the local area. Quite often they bring them to the copse and walk them round here which is nice for the kids to have a space to explore. The other way that they get involved is through things like our bird-box scheme. So we took the bird boxes to the school, they assembled them and then they decorated them and we hang them in the copse. 

 I think it’s absolutely vital for all children because, as we know, recreation areas are in decline and also, with new-build houses the gardens are a lot smaller and so there are less opportunities for children to be outside. And something like this work party provides a really brilliant opportunity for kids to come and have somewhere where they can explore safely and just get involved in digging up the wood chip and, you know, cutting back a few plants and things in an area where it doesn’t matter if they cut the wrong thing or dig in the wrong place because it’s a natural area.  

>> Diana Beale, Maybush Copse Friends Group: 
It’s provided a whole new focus in the village for completely different sorts of groups and networks. We didn’t know each other before we came here. It’s like fantastic seeing all these young trees. It’s really becoming a woodland now.  

>> Nicky Horter: 
This is absolutely unique. We’ve not been involved in anything like this before that’s got the community involvement because it really is driven by the community for the enjoyment of the community. Yeah, and it’s quite exceptional really.