A family-friendly interactive app has been launched as part of a project to help transform Chelmsford residents’ relationship with a nature reserve known locally as the Bunny Walks.
The app is part of a Safer Streets programme for the area made possible through funding from the Home Office. It will engage with families using quizzes, interesting facts about the history, flora and fauna of the reserve and help residents feel more confident when they’re walking or cycling through the area.
The app is being released at the start of the summer holiday so that families can make the most of this free new tool while children are off school to explore a key green space close to the city centre.
Where are the Bunny Walks?
The Chelmer Valley Local Nature Reserve, which is known by many locals as the ‘Bunny Walks’, is a 17.6ha reserve that runs alongside the River Chelmer between Broomfield, Springfield and the city centre. Although it is well-used by residents all year round, its secluded location and winding pathways means that the area has been identified as a place where people, specifically women and girls, have felt unsafe.
How the app will work
From Tuesday 26 July, there will be a number of points along the reserve where the app can be picked up by scanning the QR codes available along the route. The app is split into sections and will guide users through the Bunny Walks. Harry Otter, who residents helped to name via a Chelmsford City Council Facebook competition, is the main character in the app and will help residents learn more about the location.
This new interactive experience has been made with families and young people in mind but can be enjoyed by all ages. By encouraging people to interact with the reserve through this app, the hope is that the Bunny Walks will become better understood as an important area for biodiversity and nature.
The app also has important and accessible safety information about the risks of being near the river at night, stranger danger, and includes interviews from Police Community Support Officers.
‘The app will be a great way of encouraging children, and people of all ages, to explore a key green space which sits so close to the city centre. Projects supported through the Safer Streets initiative have already made a positive impact, and we want every area of Chelmsford to be more connected and accessible to everyone.’Councillor Moore, Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford
The Bunny Walks link to nature
The Chelmer Valley Local Nature Reserve provides habitats for herons, egrets, otters, muntjacs, foxes and many more species. Chelmsford parks volunteers help this area to flourish which in turn, encourages different species to make this habitat their home.
The landscape is also an important retreat within the city and the app aims to help residents to understand more about it.
You can find out all about the Chelmer Valley Local Nature Reserve on the Love Your Chelmsford website and don’t forget to scan the QR codes to use the app when you’re out and about in the Bunny Walks next.
This initiative is part of a wider project taking place following the award of £550,000 from the Home Office’s Safer Streets fund for the city of Chelmsford as a whole, as secured by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex in partnership with Chelmsford City Council, Essex County Council and Essex Police and supported by MP Vicky Ford.