This is the letter that the Friends of Southwick Country Park have sent to the Strategic Planning Committee and local councillors, a last plea for sanity before the Committee meets on February 22nd to consider Planning Applications 20/00379/OUT, 20/09659/FUL and 18/10035/OUT.

Ref:Planning Applications 20/00379/OUT, 20/09659/FUL and 18/10035/OUT

Southwick  Country Park Nature Reserve is 150 acres of old farmland alongside Lambrok Stream, part of the ecologically important wildlife corridor linking the woodlands east of Trowbridge to the agricultural landscape and the River Avon to the west. The reserve is home to a successful biosphere including 12 UK BAP priority species of Lepidoptera, 3 priority species of bat, and endangered water voles.

The three planning applications above, all adjacent to the reserve, would build 290 houses in this wildlife corridor, interrupting a network of healthy ecosystems: a flight corridor that 13 species of bats, including the critically endangered Bechstein’s Bat, use to move between woodland roosts in the east, feeding grounds in the reserve and the SAC at Bradford on Avon; the route otters from the Biss use to access the moat at Southwick Court; the landscape through which we hope water voles will spread along the banks of Lambrok Stream, and the rare emblematic white letter hairstreak butterfly along what remains of the elm in the hedges. The reserve shares its 15 species of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) with Southwick Court’s moat, Lambrok Stream providing the corridor between  the two habitats.

We have two concerns. Firstly, the infrastructure associated with residential developments will cause damage. We have not seen adequate proposals to protect Lambrok Stream from run-off, or the bats’ flight corridor from light pollution. If old hedges are grubbed up, their biodiversity, product of centuries, will be lost. The proposal to bridge Lambrok Stream will sever the links between Southwick Court moat, the upper Lambrok, and the reserve.

The promise to enhance biodiversity is meaningless in ecological terms; an acre of new-planted saplings will not compensate for the loss of old hedge lines; monetary contributions to establish new wildlife habitat elsewhere will not compensate Southwick and Trowbridge residents for the degradation of their nature reserve. WHSAP calls for the developers of these sites to plan jointly in matters of biodiversity; this has not happened.

Our second concern is that 290 houses, all less than 1km from the reserve, will bring 700* extra people, 100* dogs, and 70* cats. The increased footfall in the reserve will stretch its resources to breaking point. Already, Trowbridge has run out of publicly accessible green space where its growing population can exercise and play; a nature reserve is not the right environment to make up this shortfall.

We believe that these sites should not be built upon at all, that this wildlife corridor should be left intact. If permission to build is to be granted, we believe it should be absolutely contingent on appropriate joint planning for biodiversity and upon contribution to the provision or purchase of public green space for the residents of Trowbridge, to lessen pressure upon the nature reserve.

 *These figures are based on ONS averages.

Header image: drone shot by Simon Knight looking over the reserve and west across open farmland.

2 thoughts on “

  1. Well done, I Just hope they heed your words. After reading the 300 page Report for Strategic Planning Committee, I fear their only consideration is the 285 homes they will gain if they grant planning permission for these three sites!

    1. This would be so short sighted. Every metric says that our countryside’s biodiversity is shrinking, that we are one of the most nature depleted countries in Europe but still developments are allowed to go ahead without proper protection in place.

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