Ecological surveys are taking place at Manydown to ensure the new development enhances the natural environment and landscape, boosts biodiversity and creates new areas for wildlife.
As part of the preparatory work at the site, ecology experts are mapping existing wildlife habitats to minimise impact on them during the development process. Other ecology work includes developing management strategies for rare arable plants, ancient woodland and grasslands along with plans for creating new and enhancing existing habitats.
This is one element of a package of work to prepare Manydown for infrastructure works in 2022 and new homes to start in 2023. Archaeological surveying is also underway to provide a fuller picture of the character and history of the area.
The creation of Manydown will bring together up to 3,520 new homes set alongside and within the area’s natural countryside. The site will consist of significant green spaces including neighbourhood parks, squares, gardens and playing fields, as well as a 250-acre countryside park which will protect existing habitats and provide an opportunity to enhance the biodiversity of the land, as well as facilitate access to well cared for green spaces.
The partnership delivering Manydown is between Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Hampshire County Council, and master developer Urban&Civic, part of the global charity the Wellcome Trust.
Partnership representatives met with the project’s ecologists and archaeologists to receive an update on works such as ecology and archaeology as well as the new community. The development’s website – www.manydownlife.co.uk – will provide updates on works such as the ecology and archaeology as well as the new community. People across the borough and beyond can sign up to a regular e-newsletter to stay informed about Manydown and follow the project’s social media channels (@ManydownLife on Facebook and Twitter), which will be regularly updated.
Paul Chester, the Partnership’s lead ecologist for the Manydown development, said: “Whilst parts of Manydown retain a diverse and interesting ecology that will need to be protected, parts of the site have already lost biodiversity due to farming practices and stopping traditional woodland or hedgerow management techniques. The project brings the opportunity to restore degraded or lost habitats and to target key species that have seen local declines or have not been seen in the areas for many years. It is a very exciting project that can deliver significant biodiversity enhancement.”
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Major Projects Cllr John Izett said: “Listening to leading ecologist Paul Chester, and hearing about the amazing plans on behalf of our development partnership for the restoration of so many native plants and animals to Manydown, was a hugely inspiring moment. It is evidence of both our commitment to the environment, that is central to how we develop Manydown, and of the opportunity available on such a big site, that will have so much green space, to help nature in a meaningful way while enriching the lives of borough residents who will have use of these spaces.”
The Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith Mans, said: “It is a priority that the Manydown development is planned to enhance the local environment and embrace the benefits of its rural location. These important preparatory stages of the project are helping to assess the existing flora and fauna so when home building starts it is done with minimum impact to the current inhabitants of the site.”