Green Space, Rural Feel and SANG

Green space and key policies

The development will disastrously affect local woodland, hedgerows and green space.  It will result in the loss of natural, long-established biodiverse environments when we should be looking for Biodiversity Net Gains. Please quote the Planning Policies LISTED AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE if possible. They will make your objection carry weight.

Trees/Bottle Copse- Planning Policy CP7, CP3, CC03, and TB23  can  be used to support these points (see below)

The entire wood has a (Tree Preservation Order)TPO over all trees.  The Woodland Trust has designated the adjoining woods as Ancient Woodland (AW). Berkeley Homes have not bought this AW portion of the wood, but they plan to develop the large section of woodland that directly joins the Ancient Woodland. 

Wokingham Council has made all of Bottle Copse and the attached Ancient Woodland a Local Wildlife Site(LWS) on the recommendation of bodies such as Natural England (NE) and Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT). The developer’s woods contain “wet woodland, ” considered a Habitat of Principal Importance.

Berkley Homes include this wood as a “Sustainable Alternative Green Space” (SANG). Natural England (NE) states that ‘SANGs should avoid sites of high conservation value which are likely to be damaged by increased visitor numbers’  This is a site of high value locally due to the badgers, bat roosts and numerous other protected species.  Natural England states, ‘ Ancient Woodland, ancient trees and Veteran Trees are irreplaceable. Some of these trees will be hundreds of years old. That is how long it will take to replace them.

The developer’s promise to plant more trees will not mitigate the loss of these important veteran trees, several of which will have to be removed to build the access road and sightlines at the junction. At least two of these trees tabled to be destroyed are important bat roosts.   

 The path proposed through the woods by the developer will inevitably lead to disturbance of the wildlife (including badgers)  by walkers, dogs, and the recreational activities in the woods. It will also lead to people entering the Ancient Woodland site adjacent.

Veteran Trees/Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) –  Planning Policy  CC03, CP7, CP1, CP3, and TB23 can be used to support these points ( see below)

On the proposed development site Wokingham Borough Council has recorded at least 57 individual trees with TPOs, two areas of woodland with a blanket TPO and five additional areas of trees with a TPO. This is a very high-value site for trees in this area. Wokingham Veteran Tree Association has also recorded at least 45 veteran trees on land within the site that they could access. These veteran trees give this area its distinct rural feel.

There will be direct losses of trees due to removal for construction; these include a swathe of trees through the middle of Bottle Copse to construct the new road. Two of these mature trees support bat roosts. Then there will be indirect losses from disturbance of rooting zones.

Then there will be indirect losses from disturbance of rooting zones during building work, pollution from dust and building materials etc. These will include the oaks around the edges of the site but also the trees forming a small copse in the field next to Viking Field. Many of these trees have Tree Preservation Orders(TPOs).  Trees that have been indirectly affected by building work around them will often decline and sicken, and the new residents will ask the council to remove them due to the risk of falling branches.

The development would result in the direct loss and impact upon many trees that are of high amenity value to the character of the local area. This includes trees viewable from Viking Field, Leslie Sears Field, and Blagrove Lane.

The developer’s environmental report states that ’public use of Ancient Woodland would be discouraged by fencing/thorny scrub planting, and there would be no loss of trees in the woodland’.  These ancient trees are likely damaged if the road is built very close to that area.

Hedgerows-  Planning Policies CC03 CP7, TB23 and CP3  can  be used to support these points ( see below)

Many hedgerows will be lost during the construction of these houses. The developers have stated that they will plant 3 KM of hedgerows as a mitigation strategy; however, it appears that some of this just includes repairs to the few existing hedgerows left behind. 

It will take years for these to become established enough to support meaningful amounts of wildlife. 

Hedgerows are important for butterflies, moths, farmland birds, bats, and dormice. They provide food and shelter and act as wildlife corridors for species including reptiles and amphibians, allowing movement and dispersal between other habitats. These wildlife corridors across Blagrove and onto Viking Field will be broken, meaning wildlife previously encountered on Viking Field will no longer be there for people to enjoy.

*Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace SANG  (this park has to be provided by the developers as they are building in a Special Wildlife Protection Area- Thames Basin Heath). Planning Policies CP7, CP3, CP8, and TB23 can  be used to support these points (see below)

A development of this size needs seven hectares of SANG to meet the criteria set by NE.

NE states that identifying a SANG area should not include sites of high nature conservation value which are likely to be damaged by increased visitor numbers.  However, Bottle Copse is designated as a Local Wildlife Site (LWS) and has areas of High Priority Habitats. According to NE, the wet woodland areas are a Habitat of Principal Importance.

The proposal also appears to fail to demonstrate that there is enough SANG. The area of woodland in Bottle Copse is 3.4 ha. If you subtract this area of LWS from the 9.3 ha SANG that the developers claim to be ‘creating’, this leaves 5.9ha of SANG, which does not fulfil the required 7 ha for a 350-house development.  

83% of visitors to a SANG arrive by car (Natural England data), which will significantly increase the traffic in the area by more than that calculated by the developer based on house numbers. A SANG of over 4ha must have an attached car park, but there is no car park on the plans. 

Natural England (NE) says that SANGs must allow pet owners to let dogs run freely over significant parts of the walks. This will harm the badger population and many other creatures who live in the woods where the path will run.

 NE states that sites where freely-roaming dogs will cause significant nuisance/damage should not be considered part of a SANG.

Loss of Greenspace/Rural Feel- WBC Planning Policies CP3, CC03, CC02, CP1, CP7, CP11, TB21, and TB23  can  be used to support these points ( see below)

This new development will build on a greenspace outside the development limits set by Wokingham Council. We will lose the feeling of being on the edge of the countryside, and it will close the gap between Wokingham and Barkham.  Green space will be lost and not feel like any gap between Wokingham and Barkham. It will gradually all join up and feel like one big expanding town.

This area still has a strong rural character with its hedgerows, veteran, and mature trees. The development will have an urbanising effect on the rural landscape and erode the existing rural character.

Lesley Sears playing field, particularly Viking Field, will become isolated from the surrounding countryside. They will become just another town park.

The ‘wildlife corridors’ the developers propose will not mitigate against the loss of wildlife tracks that the deer and badgers use to access these green spaces. The site’s development will effectively remove these wildlife corridors whilst the site is underway. The two greenspace amenities we have will be completely fragmented.   

Evendons Lane and Viking Field are on the edges of Wokingham and have a rural feel. Both fields are very well-used by residents. When you are on Viking Field, you feel a strong connection with the countryside because of the views of the fields. This continuity with the countryside will be lost when houses and a new development road run right up to the boundaries of these recreational areas.

You have a strong feeling of leaving the town and entering the countryside when you travel down Blagrove Lane. It’s lovely to see fields, hedgerows and mature trees on the edge of town. It feels rural -something that is hard to find now in Wokingham.

Blagrove Lane has deep banks at its midpoint and on to the Evendons Lane end. It has all the hallmarks of a sunken lane.  Blagrove Lane’s sunken lane character would be severely undermined and spoiled.

The developer proposes to close the Evendons Lane end of Blagrove Lane to all but pedestrians and cyclists, but they have no power to do so. The increased traffic on this Evendons end of the lane will destroy its rural feel and potentially necessitate widening of the road, and the character of this lane would be lost.

The hedgerows crossing the site will have to be grubbed up. We will lose these valuable wildlife corridors that support this area’s bats, butterflies, reptiles and birds.  

The council’s development policies say they will protect this valuable rural part of Wokingham. But it looks as if this development will ruin this greenspace. This development will damage the trees and hedgerows that are there. They are an important part of what gives this side of Wokingham its rural feel.

Important Planning Policy Documents from Wokingham Council

Spatial vision statement for Wokingham Borough ( from Wokingham Borough Core Strategy)  3.5 Development proposals within the borough will respect its character and build upon the area’s attractiveness and features, thereby ensuring the sense of place is retained.  

Core Policy 1 – Sustainable development

 Planning permission will be granted for development proposals that:

1) Maintain or enhance the high quality of the environment

c) Maintain or enhance the ability of the site to support fauna and flora, including protected species

Point 4.2 It is therefore important that any development proposals do not harm this or adversely affect the quality of life of residents, workers and visitors. The Council’s Landscape Character Assessment highlights the borough’s areas with landscapes that should be protected or enhanced by development.

Core Policy CP3 – General Principles for development

 Planning permission will be granted for proposals that:

 a) Are of an appropriate scale of activity, mass, layout, built form, height, materials and character to the area together with a high quality of design without detriment to the amenities of adjoining land users, including open spaces or occupiers and their quality of life;

c) Have no detrimental impact upon important ecological, heritage, landscape (including river valleys) or geological features or watercourses

Core Policy CP7 – Biodiversity 

Sites designated as of importance for nature conservation at an international or national level will be conserved and enhanced and inappropriate development will be resisted. The degree of protection given will be appropriate to the status of the site in terms of its international or national importance.


  1. Which may harm county designated sites (Local Wildlife Sites in Berkshire), whether directly or indirectly, or

B) Which may harm habitats or, species of principal importance in England for nature conservation, veteran trees or features of the landscape that are of major importance for wild flora and fauna (including wildlife and river corridors), whether directly or indirectly, or

C) That compromises the implementation of the national, regional, county and local biodiversity action plans will be only permitted if it has been clearly demonstrated that the need for the proposal outweighs the need to safeguard the nature conservation importance, that no alternative site that would result in less or no harm is available which will meet the need will only be permitted if it has been clearly demonstrated that the need for the proposal outweighs the need for the safeguard the nature conservation.

Core Policy 11 – Proposals outside Development Limits (including countryside)

In order to protect the separate identity of settlements and maintain the quality of the environment, proposals outside of development limits will not normally be permitted except where:

It does not lead to excessive encroachment or expansion of development away from the original buildings.

4.57 Restricting development outside of development limits also helps protect the separate identity of settlements and maintain the quality of the borough’s environment which is recognised in the Audit Report.

Policy CC02: Development Limits

1. Development limits for each settlement are defined on the Policies Map.

2. Planning permission for proposals at the edge of settlements will only be granted where they can demonstrate that the development, including boundary treatments, is within development limits and respects the transition between the built up area and the open countryside by taking account of the character of the adjacent countryside and landscape.

Policy CC03: Green Infrastructure, Trees and Landscaping  

d) Protect and retain existing trees, hedges and other landscape features

3. Development proposals which would result in the loss, fragmentation or isolation of areas of green infrastructure will not be acceptable. 

 Policy TB23: Biodiversity and Development

Statement: ‘Local Wildlife Sites are non-statutory sites of significant value for the conservation of wildlife. These sites represent local character and distinctiveness and have an important role to play in meeting local and national targets for biodiversity conservation.’

Core Policy 8 – Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area

 Development which alone or in combination is likely to have a significant effects on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area will be required to demonstrate that adequate measures to avoid and mitigate any potential adverse effects are delivered

 The proposal provides 50 or more residential units within 7km (linear). In this case, the proposal will be individually assessed for whether a significant effect upon the SPA is likely either on its own or in combination with other plans or projects around the site. Where avoidance and mitigation measures are required to address likely significant effects, this is likely to involve SANG together with funding towards monitoring the effectiveness of the solution agreed