A RANGE of improvements have helped to spruce up a Highcliffe nature reserve once destined to be a mountain bike park.

The Mayor of Christchurch, Cllr John Lofts and fellow ward councillor, Myra Mawbey, visited Chewton Bunny following the completion of a range of improvements at the ancient woodland site.

The Mayor and Cllr Mawbey, met with local resident and regular Chewton Bunny visitor Andrew Elis to discuss improvements to the site, following installation of a new interpretation panel showing a map of the nature reserve.

The map was part of a series of enhancements put in place by the council’s countryside team.

In 2012, controversial plans for a mountain bike park at Chewton Bunny were abandoned due to uncertainties about who owned the land.

A consultation on the proposal was greeted with opposition by many local residents, with a 200-signature petition signed objecting to it.

However, the council decided to scrap the scheme for the site due to complex land ownership issues.

The latest improvements, made possible through heathland mitigation funds, include the resurfacing of footpaths, fencing, signage and new steps.

The fund is made up of a surcharge from developers building close to heathland areas and is designed to reduce the impact on heathland areas by encouraging residents to visit alternative natural sites.

The Mayor said: “It is great to see these improvements completed.

“A natural look and finish has been maintained whilst at the same time improving the visitor experience. We are very proud that this nature reserve is in our ward and we hope that residents from right across the borough will continue to enjoy visiting here.”