Children from St Mary’s School in Bicester joined the Countryside team at Kingsmere on Tuesday 17th June to investigate the new public open space at Pingle Brook, learn all about the nine sculptural benches featured in the area and the extensive wildlife now at home on the new housing development.

Wearing hard hats and high visibility jackets, over 60 children from years 3 and 4, together with their teachers, toured the first of two major public open spaces to be provided at Kingsmere, known as Pingle Brook.

Kelly Holden-White, teacher at St Mary’s School comments: “The children were really excited about exploring Kingsmere as we have been watching the new homes being built over the last couple of years. The children from years 3 and 4 visited the site, and were given a tour through the public open space to view the public art benches and find out about the wildlife that is thriving in the area. They found a number of frogs and tadpoles during the tour and particularly enjoyed learning about bat poo! We would really like to thank all of the team from Countryside who showed us around the site. The children had a great time.”

Designed by artist Will Glanfield, the public art benches were carefully crafted from green and air dried European oak and inspired by both the history of the site and the surrounding flora, fauna and wildlife recorded in the ecological survey of the site.

Will comments: “It was great to talk about the designs of the benches with the children and explain the detailed research and thought that went into creating each of these sculptures. For example, the White Cross seat is based on a gothic arch containing a cross. This reflects the location of the bench at a junction along the main right of way between the two parish churches of Bicester (St Edburg’s) and Chesterton (St Mary’s), and the ‘White Cross’ situated on this parcel of land in the middle ages, to which friars from the nearby priory would walk. Another bench, Polyommatus icarus references the Common Blue butterfly recorded at that particular location, whilst the central seat on the site is situated between, and overlooks both ponds. This piece is called Vita nova, which means new life and refers to all new aspects of the site that are becoming established, including the community and the wildlife.”

Will continues: “The benches offer perfect places for people to rest and enjoy the natural environment or share a picnic with friends and family, and I hope that the children and all of the community will enjoy using them for many years to come.”

St Marys school visit to Countryside Kingsmere Development -17/6/14

The children also learnt about the ecological work that has been undertaken at Kingsmere to ensure wildlife thrives at the development for many years to come. Ecologist Jeff Picksley from consultants Terence O’Rourke, who spoke to the children on the tour comments: “The children were really interested in finding out about the wildlife at Kingsmere and the new habitats that have been created to provide homes for the existing wildlife and attract new species, such as Great Crested Newts to the area. These measures have already proved successful, with populations of birds, bats and butterfly species in particularly thriving in the new habitats, and more butterflies than ever before being recorded last year.”

Sam Caslin, Senior Planner for Countryside comments: “The children from St Mary’s School were a delight to show around the development. They asked lots of great questions, and a few children were even keen to join the housebuilding industry in the future! We would like to welcome everyone in the community to come and enjoy the new public open space at Kingsmere by taking a seat on one of the benches to observe the wildlife in the ponds and surrounding area.”

Only twelve miles outside of Oxford, Kingsmere is well on its way to establishing itself as a new modern village offering comfortable living with all of the amenities for modern life. New homes are being developed by leading housebuilders Taylor Wimpey, Bellway Homes, Bovis and David Wilson Homes ensuring a varied collection of homes designed to appeal to a wide range of buyers. Alongside these, a wide variety of new facilities are planned including new primary and secondary schools, a village centre with shops, community and health facilities, two major recreational areas with sporting facilities and a business park. A new hotel and family restaurant are already open at Kingsmere. Just three miles from junction 9 of the M40, Kingsmere is also adjacent to the hugely popular Bicester Village shopping area.