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Westbrook Hay and Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG)

The Box Moor Trust is always looking for opportunities to better ensure the future sustainable management of the estate, so we are currently exploring the option of creating a SANG at Westbrook Hay.

What are the benefits of the Box Moor Trust creating a SANG at Westbrook Hay?

  • Land is protected as a Natural Green Space for 80 years as a minimum
  • Improved security for us to provide a future space for people and wildlife
  • Increased and more accessible walking trails
  • Increase in car parking spaces

If an area of land becomes a SANG it legally protects it as natural green space for 80 to 100 years and provides long term funding from developers to maintain it as a high quality green open space and accessible to the public during that time. For the Box Moor Trust, this would provide much needed funds to support the maintenance of the land and local community activities across this area of the estate.

What is a SANG?

SANG stands for Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space.

Natural England, the UK government’s adviser for the natural environment, uses the concept of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) as part of their strategy to mitigate the impacts of urban development on protected areas, such as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). SANGs are designed to offer recreational opportunities and reduce visitor pressure on sensitive habitats.

A report in March 2022 by ecology consultants, Footprint Ecology provided scientific evidence that harm was occurring to the special features of the Chilterns Beechwoods SAC at Ashridge Commons and Woods SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest). Since the publication of the ecology report and revised guidance from Natural England, Dacorum Borough Council have been unable to issue planning permission for applications for residential development until a Mitigation Strategy is in place.

Dacorum Borough Council have recently published a Mitigation Strategy to help protect Ashridge commons and woods and have been working closely with neighbouring authorities, Natural England and the National Trust to develop the strategy.

The new Mitigation Strategy sets out targeted measures to protect the site and to accommodate the predicted pressures associated with future growth within the 12.6 kilometre ‘Zone of Influence’ that extends from Ashridge Commons and Woods.

To help reduce recreational pressures on Ashridge Woods, alternative green spaces need to be identified. All new developments within the Zone of Influence will need to make provision for a new Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG), or alternatively contribute towards the maintenance of a suitable SANG project elsewhere.

Larger developments (10 or more new homes) must be located close to a suitable SANG. Smaller developments can contribute towards an existing SANG. All new homes granted planning permission from 14th March 2022, where there is a net increase through development, will need to directly deliver a new SANG or contribute towards the delivery of a SANG.

For more information, please email [email protected]