Felton Common is owned by Winford Parish Council. It comprises approx. 100 acres of mainly semi improved grass land, now used almost exclusively for recreation. It is a site of nature conservation, a local nature reserve and designated open access land. There are a number of important archaeological features, including Scheduled Ancient Monuments. A booklet has been published about the Common, Felton Common booklet.
As with most common land, one of the main original functions of Felton Common was to provide grazing land for local people. Designated properties had rights attached which, amongst other privileges, allowed the owner to run certain animals on the common. Until towards the end of the C20th this worked reasonably well as a means of controlling the vegetation and maintaining the natural, open character of the common.
Over time grazing has declined dramatically, and in recent years has stopped completely. The lack of grazing animals has resulted in a gradual change to the ecology, with scrub, bracken and trees invading the area. At the same time recreational use, particularly dog walking has increased. Such developments, the result of rapid social change, will inevitably continue to have an impact on the character of the common. However, the common continues to be a haven for wildlife, click here to see the latest report on the variety of bird and other life observed by a local resident.
Ten years ago the Parish Council set up the Common Working Party with the remit to try and protect the essential nature of the common as a natural space for everyone to enjoy.
Much has been achieved:
- With the overall aim of encouraging biodiversity, the vegetation has been managed mechanically under a stewardship agreement with DEFRA, now English Nature.
- The scheduled ancient monuments have been cleared and signed
- Signage at the five entrances, and the displaying of the bylaws as legally required, has been improved
- Invasive plants such as ragwort and Japanese knot weed have been controlled
- Dog waste bins have been installed at three access points
- A community day was held to celebrate the common in July 2010
North Somerset Council is responsible for enforcing the bylaws, breach of which can be a criminal offence.