Ottershaw`s Open Spaces or Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANGs)
The Heaths in Northwest Surrey form part of the Thames Basin Special Protection Area designated in 2005 as they support internationally important populations of nightjars, Dartford warbler and woodlark. However this area is also one of the country’s main housing growth zones. The new residents with their new dogs, cats, cars and mountain bikes have a serious impact on the Heaths.
Natural England has formulated a solution – SANGs (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace). Developers make a financial contribution for each new dwelling built within 5 Km of the boundary of a Special Protection Area site to help fund the SANGs to mitigate the impact on the Heaths. This money provides funding, half for new works and half for future management as an endowment in perpetuity. This creates alternative countryside sites near the Heaths that people will want to visit. As the Special Protection Area covers Chobham and Horsell Commons, all of Ottershaw is within this 5 Km zone.
SANGs are not formal parks or recreation areas, but are natural sites with wildlife and space to explore. Runnymede Borough Council has designated its own Open Spaces sites. These in the Ottershaw area are: Timber Hill, Chaworth Copse, Ottershaw Chase, Ether Hill and Queenwood (the Memorial Field is too formal to be a SANG site), Hare Hill and Homewood Park.
The most important point is that SANGs have to be provided in perpetuity. This gives the sites legal protection from being disposed of by the Council at any time in the future for development. This is far more than the present protection of being in the Green Belt.
The first tranche of money for the Ottershaw sites was used to completely refurbish the car park for the Timber Hill and Ottershaw Chase sites, (opposite the Church). Now there is further money available to carry out work to improve visitor appreciation and nature conservation. The schedule for the sites is based on the expertise of Runnymede Borough Council’s Leisure Department and surveys carried out by Surrey Wildlife Trust in the last few years. The work has to be carried out by the end of this financial year, i.e. the end of March 2013. Notices will be displayed on the sites to explain the work. The Ottershaw Society is assisting by using its publicity systems to liaise as much as possible with members and residents.
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