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Photo by Timm CleasbyPeople have lived in the beautiful and secluded Dearne Valley for thousands of years, shaping and adapting the landscape, leaving fascinating traces of their lives as each generation faced new challenges”.

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP) builds on over 10 years of work by a wide range of partners in the Dearne Valley area of South Yorkshire. It is an area of approximately 177 km2 covering parts of the boroughs of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham.

The DVLP is led by the Arts, Museums and Archives Service at Barnsley Council, representing a broad partnership of the RSPB, Rotherham Council, Doncaster Council, the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Garganey Trust and Groundwork Dearne Valley, amongst others. In June 2014 it was confirmed that it had been successful in securing £1.8m of funding  from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

This five-year scheme, running from June 2014 will focus on the historic buildings and landscapes of the Dearne Valley, working with the local communities to protect, preserve and enhance the area.

The Dearne Valley is rich in industrial heritage, valuable biodiversity, beautiful landscapes and strong communities. The landscape, geology and geography means it has been at the heart of industrial development over thousands of years. Just as the landscape created the opportunity for industry, so industry shaped the area. Coal mining, glassworks and ironworks have had a huge impact on the landscape and the communities that live in the Dearne. This has been both positive and negative but it remains an area that is still undergoing change. The Dearne Valley is an area though that is ripe for discovery, with a chance for people in the area and visitors outside the area to learn and experience more about it. The DVLP can play a central part in this discovery and “Reveal the Hidden Dearne”.

The DVLP’s intensive development phase has brought together the elements contained within the landscape conservation action plan submitted to the HLF. A range of research has been commissioned that shows the richness of the built heritage, the varied biodiversity and the enthusiasm of the people of the area. The clear threats facing the heritage and environment of the area have been identified and these include a lack of awareness, investment and co-ordination. All issues the DVLP is looking to address. Through this research and widespread consultation the DVLP now has an established identity and a clear way forward for its five-year implementation phase.

The DVLP will work with local groups in restoring and protected listed buildings and key environmental sites. The impact and importance of the mining industry on the landscape will be highlighted through a range of surveys and community projects. There will be courses and classes to help people learn more and volunteering opportunities will be supported. Grants will be provided to supported local community groups in helping deliver the aims and objectives of the DVLP. Projects and activities will be supported across the area with an emphasis on developing sustainable skills and projects so that the DVLP has an impact beyond its lifetime. Projects include:

  • Archaeology of the Dearne – Archaeological investigations into key sites across the Dearne, using this as an opportunity to learn more about the sites in order to establish any protection or preservation works for them. This work will involve the use of qualified archaeologists to undertake surveys as well as a programme of community participation and information to develop people’s understanding and knowledge of archaeology.
  • Exhibitions and Outreach Programme: Using  venues in the Dearne as a base for exhibitions and outreach that can then be rolled out into other venues in the Dearne and beyond.
  • Strategic capital investment in key heritage sites across the Dearne, working with local groups to protect, preserve and enhance them.
  • Signage and Waymarking: Improved signage along the routes, at gateway sites and at key points directed to places of interest
  • Stories of the Dearne: Development and promotion of a programme of guided walks

Full details of the programme are included in the Landscape Conservation Action Plan (LCAP) which in the near future will be avialble on request.

What is clear to all involved is that the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership is an exciting and innovative opportunity for the Dearne Valley that will have a long term impact. The DVLP will be delivered by a team of four working across the Dearne, with the recruitment of the further three team members taking place from July 2014.

For more information please contact Richard King, the Landscape Partnership Development Officer.

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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