CSA’s landscape architects and ecologists have worked closely with officers at Hart District Council, and in consultation with Natural England, on the detailed design of a bespoke SANG which forms part of the new development at Albany Park. The SANG is required to mitigate increased recreational pressure resulting from the new development on the nearby Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (‘SPA’) and its sensitive bird populations.
The scheme was granted planning consent in 2015 following a successful Appeal. Critical to the success of this Appeal was the supportive responses received from Natural England through the Discretionary Advisory Service, and from officers at Hart who stated, “… the SANGS proposal is to be credited to the Developer and Consultants as a good submission”.
Following protracted contractual negotiations with landowners, CSA’s landscape architects were delighted to tender the SANG works in Spring 2020, and construction work is now well underway on site. Completion of the SANG is anticipated to coincide with the first occupation at Albany Park, scheduled for the second quarter of 2022.
CSAs landscape architects and ecologists remain very much involved in the delivery of the SANG. Survey work for protected species remains ongoing, and CSA’s ecologists are regularly on site monitoring clearance works, and the implementation of new ecological mitigation features such as bat and bird boxes, hibernacula and new ponds and wetland features. CSA’s landscape architects are undertaking an advisory role, working closely with the client, the appointed contractor and representatives of Hart District Council to deliver the SANG.
Once open the SANG will provide a significant new recreational and wildlife resource, which will attract visitors from Albany Park and from the surrounding area. It will provide in excess of 2.3 km of walking routes, including several hundred metres of new boardwalk, which will ensure that the green space remains accessible throughout the year. New signage and interpretation boards will provide information on the various recreational routes, and will describe the habitats present within the SANG. Timber seating and litter bins will also be provided at key locations.
Proposals will bring the existing grassland habitats within the Site of Interest for Nature Conservation (‘SINC’) into more favourable management, with an annual cut and collect of the existing grassland sward. Elsewhere, grassland habitats will be managed by low intensity cattle grazing. New areas of wetland habitat will also be created within the damper parts of the SANG, together with areas of native tree and shrub planting which will add to the existing tree cover present.
CSA’s involvement with this project has spanned nearly two decades, and for all those involved it is immensely rewarding to see this project finally come to life. The new SANG will provide a significant new green space for residents of Fleet, providing access to nature with its associated benefits for the health and wellbeing of the population. The proposals will also result in an improvement to some of the existing habitats on-site, as well as providing new areas of BAP priority habitat. We look forward to providing a further update when the SANG is complete.