Surrey Heath Borough Council announce the formal opening of Chobham Water Meadows,
The new Mayor of Surrey Heath Cllr Valerie White completed one of her first official engagements when she formally opened the new site at Chobham Water Meadows.
Chobham Water Meadows is a scenic and peaceful 23.5 hectare SANG site, which offers many natural paths for walking, and includes a 2.5k circular route along the banks of the River Bourne. Visitors are welcome to exercise their dogs, cycle, run, or just amble through this special place taking in the meadow vistas, woodland boundaries and the gentle River Mill Bourne.
SANG stands for Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace. These areas are created as enhanced and attractive greenspaces that provide an enjoyable natural environment for recreational use, and are provided as an alternative to the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA).
The Thames Basin Heaths SPAs are internationally important heathland sites that support rare birds such as the Dartford warbler and Nightjar who are highly sensitive to visitors. SANGs are therefore provided to encourage recreational use there to reduce pressure on the SPA.
At the opening on May 25, following a speech and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the entrance to the SANG, Cllr White and the Surrey Heath Borough Council Chief Executive Karen Whelan planted a commemorative oak tree on the site. A plaque to identify this tree will be added in due course.
Cllr White said: “I am pleased to officially open this beautiful space – we encourage people to use Chobham Water Meadows for recreation and dog walking, to help avoid unsettling wildlife in the nearby SPAs.”
SHBC Greenspace rangers also led the invited guests on an hour-long guided walk around the site.
Those attending included Borough Cllr Charlotte Morley, Chobham Parish Council chair Cllr Les Coombs, Chobham Parish Cllr Carole Mancini, Thames Basin Heath Access ranger Victoria Huth, and the original landowner Keith Van Vessem.
Surrey Heath officers including Executive Head of Business Daniel Harrison and Executive Head of Regulatory Jenny Rickard were also present at the opening.
The site was purchased by Surrey Heath Borough Council in Spring 2015.
A number of works to improve drainage and tree safety, and alleviate local flooding, have been carried out in the interim.
Both the purchase and the improvements were at no cost to Council tax payers, being funded through developer contributions.
An ongoing management plan at the site will see the area grow and develop in time, including the installation of benches, bins and information boards.
There will also be enhanced habitat management, improvements to Chobham’s flood mitigation provision, and other environmental initiatives at the site.
The main entrance to the Chobham Water Meadows is easy to find, with a car park located just behind the Chobham Rider shop in the High Street.