The contract builds on an existing relationship between the two not-for-profits. TCV has held long-term contracts with The Land Trust in the past but on a much smaller scale.
Under the new agreement TCV will be responsible for the management of seven green spaces totalling 465ha including 237ha of plantation woodland across seven sites in Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham in South Yorkshire.
The land was left over from the departure of the mining industry and has been landscaped and transformed over the past 20 years. TCV takes over from The Forestry Commission, which has looked after it for the past 15 years.
Glyn Levis, in charge of the contract, said: "This is a really significant contract for us. We worked with The Land Trust on similar contracts around the country but not on anything of this scale. This is over £300,000 per annum, it gives stability of income for TCV, it allows us to develop our products and our corporate offer and I think it's a statement of confidence and trust in TCV that we can take on these large land management contracts. We're proud The Land Trust has chosen us and trusted us to be their managing partner."
TCV has three members of staff on the contract and plans to appoint an operational leader too. Currently it aims to double staffing to eight people. Levis hopes to encourage the land to be used more by others for events and volunteering. "We're taking on this management with the remit to increase community engagement," he added. "Thousands of people live around or near these sites. There's no reason why they can't be encouraged to use the sites more."
"We want to encourage other people to come and work with us to run their own activities. We've designed a full programme of volunteer activity. We'd like to have a green gym on all sites if possible. We're looking to engage corporate organisations so they can get some benefit out of helping and improve staff health. There's no reason why we couldn't work with hundreds of people each year quite easily. There are big communities around this site. There are existing partnerships."
Since the woodlands are nearly 20 years old, one of TCV's first tasks will be looking at how to organise their first thinning. Levis said this could be done with chainsaw training courses, small businesses such as a charcoal manufacturer or other forestry enterprises. TCV will engage contractors for some jobs such as grass cutting and inherited a preferred contractor with the contract.
"There's going to be work on that site that we cannot do with volunteers and we're going to have to use the right mix of people to carry out the work." said Levis, addin that this kind of blended provision model will become more prevalent in the future. "I suspect it's going to grow. There are pressures on local authorities financially and they're going to be looking at ways of saving money and community groups taking over land management and reducing the local authorities' costs."
It has kept a small contract worth around £30,000 a year with West Lindsey District council in Lincolnshire for two decades. Other agreements are in place with Southwark, London and Leicestershire local authorities. Levis said the TCV is on the lookout for more.
Since starting as the Conservation Corps in 1959, TCV has built up more than 2,000 community groups across the UK involving an estimated 11,000 volunteers a year and trains around 18,000 people a year.