PROTECTING AND ENHANCING BIODIVERSITY IN LOCAL DEVELOPMENTS
For those who would like to comment on biodiversity relating to the Redrow planning application for sites B and C to contribute to the consultation on the edge road, but are not sure where to start, here are a few notes which might be helpful.
The planning reference number for the Redrow Planning application is P23/S0433/RM, which you will find on the SODC website. The deadline for comments is 31 MARCH.
Comments on the edge road consultation can be submitted to https://letstalk.oxfordshire.gov.uk/watlington-relief-road by MONDAY 20th MARCH
Redrow has a Biodiversity Strategy “Nature for People” (see https://www.redrowplc.co.uk/about-redrow/thriving-communities/nature-for-people/) stipulating that they wish to create the best new developments for wildlife where people benefit from access to nature-rich spaces and to use their activities to increase biodiversity, inspiring other businesses to do the same. We trust that Redrow would wish to see this delivered in Watlington.
Having had a look at the revised plans and the Biodiversity Enhancement Plan (BEMP), the following points could be stressed:
1. We would ask that they retain at least some of the hedge/line of trees at right angles to the Cuxham Road on site B (numbered TL2 on the Redrow revised plans) that we see is currently down for removal. We should remind them of the importance for people and nature of these well-established, old trees in Watlington’s increasingly new landscape. There is no doubt that such well-established trees and habitats support far more complex networks of organisms than will be found in newly planted sites. We have been advised by Martin Gammie that these trees are significant as early mature trees.
2. We trust that the line of trees bordering Willow Close (TL1 on the Redrow plans) is to be retained and improved.
3. We see there is a lot of native hedge planting; we would ask that native plants are used as much as possible across the whole site.
4. Can Redrow confirm that the verges of the edge road will be planted with a suitable wildflower mix of locally found species and that it will be bordered by native hedging with some hedgerow trees?
5. We would ask local native trees be used for most of the landscaping, and certainly around all of the edges of the development bordering open countryside
6. Community Orchard - we see that the following text regarding the orchard is included in the BEMP:
2.34 A community orchard will be created in the west of the site. Traditionally managed orchards support many features of high value for wildlife. Most trees are relatively short-lived (less than 100 years) and produce decaying wood more quickly than most native hardwoods making them important refuges for saproxylic (requiring dead wood) invertebrates, hole-nesting and insectivorous birds and possibly bats.
2.35 50 fruit trees will be planted to form the orchards with tree stock containing local varieties of fruit and nut trees.
2.36 The orchard will be managed to create the traditional orchard habitat as opposed to commercial orchards. The ground flora of the orchard will be managed to create a species-rich flower meadow.
2.37 The ground flora will be sown with a species-rich meadow seed mix, such as Emorsgate EM2 Standard General Purpose Meadow Mixture.
This all sounds quite good but from the outset this has been seen as a community orchard involving the local community from the start; is this still the plan and if not what does Redrow mean by “community”?
7. Retain as much of the existing vegetation/established trees and hedges as possible
8. Longer term management of all the green spaces; in order to deliver biodiversity net gain on site it is vital that the created habitats thrive, the plants all become well established and are well managed into the future. What measures are in place to ensure proper and effective management in perpetuity and a guarantee that the newly created habitats will thrive? How long is management guaranteed for?
9. Concerns about the Chalgrove Brook - The southwestern site boundary lies close to the Chalgrove Brook, a chalk stream with high biodiversity value. Work close to that boundary, including the creation of interim access onto Cuxham Road, must therefore be done which avoids any impacts on the stream, through run-off, habitat damage etc; and the levels and layout of the area close to the interim access and proposed later roundabout should be such as to facilitate the bridging of the brook by a clear-span structure.
I would emphasise points 4 and 9 from the above, and also ask that native hedging with some native hedgerow trees be planted all along the route.