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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 12/06/2007
FARNHAM PARK RESTORATION PLAN – UPDATE AND IMPLEMENTATION



Summary & Purpose
To update Members on the progress of implementing the Farnham Park Restoration Plan and seek approval to submit a planning application for works.

APPENDIX J
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 12TH JUNE 2007

Title:

FARNHAM PARK RESTORATION PLAN – UPDATE AND IMPLEMENTATION

[Wards Affected: Farnham Castle and Farnham Upper Hale]

Summary and purpose:

To update Members on the progress of implementing the Farnham Park Restoration Plan and seek approval to submit a planning application for works.

Environmental implications:

Implementing the Farnham Park Restoration Management Plan will improve biodiversity within the park and assist in meeting Surrey Biodiversity Action Plan targets. The landscape works will contribute to the Farnham Conservation Area and the Park’s designation as a Park and Garden of Special Interest.

Social / community implications:

The full-time Park Ranger, improved information and interpretation will enhance the public’s enjoyment and understanding of the Park’s importance and ensure that the Park can be enjoyed, safely by all members of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, age and disability.

E-Government implications:

The Management and Implementation Plan will be available through the Council’s website.

Resource and legal implications:

Resources to implement the Management and Implementation plan will be provided through a number of sources; annual maintenance budget, capital budgets, funding through Section 106 agreements, grant aid from environmental stewardship scheme and bids to other grant sources. The speed of implementation will be dependent on the funding available.

The works detailed in this report will be funded over two years (2007/8 and 2008/9) from an allocation from the Council’s capital budgets of 75,000 for Farnham Park Restoration and 9,400 for Countryside Stewardship and Habitat Enhancements. In addition to this, grant income of 3,281 and an estimated 265,500 capital and 52,000 revenue from Section 106 developer contributions as part of enhancements required under the Avoidance Strategy for the Thames Basin Heaths SPA.

Background

1. Farnham Park is one of the largest (130 hectares) open spaces owned and managed by the Council. Originally a medieval deer park, it was once part of the estate of the Bishop of Winchester who resided in the adjacent Farnham Castle. It is a Grade II listed Park and Gardens of Special Interest and an Area of Historic Landscape Value. The park is a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) and is a proposed Local Nature Reserve (LNR). Recent archaeological surveys have revealed evidence of civil war battle activity and as a result English Heritage are considering including Farnham Park on the National Battlefields Register.

2. The management of the site is complex, because of its multi-functional uses, and there is a need to ensure a balance between its historic, landscape, biodiversity and recreational importance. In order to guide the Park’s long-term management the Council commissioned an Historic Landscape Survey and Restoration Management Plan (Jan 2004) which was grant aided by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Members adopted this Plan on 4th October 2004 as a policy framework for the future management of the Park. From this, a Management and Implementation Plan has been prepared which:-

Provides full details of the physical, biological and cultural features that make Farnham Park special;
Evaluates the significance of these features and the factors that affect their management;
Sets out a Vision Statement and Aims and Objectives for the Park’s future management; and
Provides a ten-year Action Plan to deliver the vision, aims and objectives. 3. Interested parties, statutory bodies and local people were consulted on this plan through the Farnham Park Advisory Group, Friends of Farnham Park and a public open day in the Park on 17th June 2006, and the final plan reflects the comments received.

4. Staff have now moved on to implementing the Action Plan and a number of key projects are timetabled to be delivered during 2007 and 2008.

Biodiversity Projects

5. Extension of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme has secured grant funding towards the costs of extending the summer cattle grazing into part of College Copse (8.6 has.) which will increase biodiversity and prevent this area, which is difficult to cut by machine, being invaded by scrub. Grass-cutting will be reduced on some areas on the southern slope to allow chalk grassland plants to flower and set seed and attract butterflies and insects. Chalk grassland is a rare resource within Waverley therefore this small change in the grass mowing regime will contribute to Biodiversity Action Plan targets. A new pond will be created in the Park suitable for education work, this will avoid disturbance to the existing pond habitats as well as providing an additional water habitat. The new pond will require planning permission. We will work closely with Surrey Archaeological Society to ensure any archaeological interests are not compromised through creating the pond.

Landscape Work

6. English Heritage and Farnham Castle Briefing Centre have agreed to the removal of some trees within the ditch surrounding the Castle in order to open up-views of the Castle from the Park and restore the historic link between the Castle and its Medieval Park. This work is within the Farnham Conservation Area.


Improving Access and Information

7. The Historic Landscape Survey and Restoration Management Plan (2004) identified the need for:- improvements to the car parks and signage; enhanced public access points; a full-time ranger based within the Park; improved visitor information and interpretation centre. Implementing these elements will also assist in the delivery of the Council’s Avoidance Strategy for the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area approved by Members in February 2007. Contributions to the enhancement of Farnham Park, as a Suitable Accessible Natural Green Space (SANGS) will be secured through Section 106 agreements with developers who are unable to or choose not to provide SANGS themselves.

8. Plans have been completed to convert Park Lodge at the entrance to the main car park, into a ranger office, interpretation centre and ranger accommodation in a design that is more appropriate for the Park. Plans will be on display at the meeting. The Farnham Park Advisory Group and Friends of Farnham Park have been involved in the design concepts. Approval is sought for a planning application to be submitted.

9. Public information and orientation maps will also be incorporated into a redesign of nine of the main pedestrian access points into the Park and a new park leaflet will be produced.

10. The layout of the main car park will be altered to provide a clear pedestrian link to the Park and improve the vehicle circulation and car park capacity. The Ranger House car park and Upper Hale Recreation Ground car park, which provide alternative car access points, will be resurfaced and signed.

11. A full-time ranger will be located in the Park to implement the works and provide public information and education. The ranger will play a key role in public reassurance as they will be on hand to deal with issues as they arise as well as managing visitors and monitoring their impact.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:-

1. the Farnham Park Management and Implementation Plan be endorsed;

2. authority be given for a first resolution, in accordance with Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General) Regulations 1992, to be made to allow a planning application to be submitted for the conversion of Park Lodge, Farnham Park; and

3. authority be given to the capital and revenue expenditure (including the appointment of a full-time ranger) as detailed in the report and within the Avoidance Strategy.

Background Papers (DoPD/DoEL)

Copies of the Farnham Park Management and Implementation Plan are available to Members in the Members’ Room.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Jane Bowden Telephone: 01483 523443
E-mail: jbowden@waverley.gov.uk
Comms/exec/2007-08/006