A planning application (ref 17/01091/FUL )has been made to build a gymnastics centre and carpark for 100 cars on an area that is currently wildlife rich woodland, which is part of Great Hollands Recreation Ground.
The proposed development appears to be in direct contradiction of the Bracknell Forest Parks and Open Spaces Strategy (2012). Which states that its key policies are to:
- Protect and establish public open space for recreation, play, sport, health, biodiversity.
- Make sure public open space supports well-being; encourages participation; and facilitates social inclusion.
The proposed development will require the destruction of 85 trees over a large wooded area, resulting in the loss of mature wildlife habitat.
The area is well established and rich in wildlife, all of which are part of the Bracknell Forest’s rich biodiversity and far too valuable to current and future generations of our town to destroy.
- During the Preliminary Ecological Assessment evidence of potential Badger activity was found in the form of a large mammal burrow dug into the side of a bank and numerous runs visible through the grassland and scrub. The site is also close to other habitats that could be used by badgers for foraging.
- The habitats within the site are highly suitable for foraging bats. A number of the mature trees also have potential features that may be utilised by bats for roosting. A detailed assessment of trees with features observed from the ground should be conducted to determine if dusk/dawn surveys are required. Bat activity surveys are also recommended to establish if any flight path or foraging areas will be impacted.
- The West European Hedgehog and Common Toad are UK BAP priority species. As these species are in the wider countryside and there is the possibility that it could occur on site.
- We strongly feel that a Bat survey should be conducted. The pertinent triggers for performing a bat survey are:
- felling, removal or lopping of: woodland, field hedgerows and/or lines of trees with connectivity to woodland, mature trees with obvious holes, cracks or cavities or ivy covered.
- Floodlighting of: any building within 50m of woodland.
Noise and Light Pollution
The parking for the proposed centre is at the back of the building, turning woodland into a car park for 100 cars. This means that the car park is very close to a number of properties within Staplehurst as it would back onto their gardens. Noise from cars / vehicles arriving and leaving the site, as well as light from the centre itself as the car park and building will need to be illuminated as the setting is semi-rural. All of which could have an adverse effect on the existing wildlife.
Most visitors will use motor vehicles to travel to and from. Only residents within the adjacent areas of Wooden Hill, some parts of Great Hollands and Home Farm can easily reach the site on foot, therefore a significant increase in traffic is likely.
Existing Road infrastructure is insufficient
South Road, Wooden Hill, Staplehurst and surrounding roads become congested when events such as Football / Boot camps / Park run etc. are taking place on the recreation ground– the gymnastics club will increase traffic significantly, and for a more prolonged period.
Existing Sites Offering Similar Facilities in Close Proximity
In close proximity the community already has a Gymnastics facility at Pinewood which is approx. ½ a mile away from the site.
When considered in conjunction with the loss of woodland for the 900+ housing development at the nearby Road Research Lab site in Crowthorne, this is unacceptable.
We feel that a development of this nature is better suited to take place within a brown field site or converting one of the office buildings that lie empty in our town centre
What can you do?
You can read the full application on the Bracknell Forest Planning Site.
The application reference is 17/01091/FUL and you can log your comments and objections here:
Or in writing to : Environment, Culture and Communities, Bracknell Forest Council, Time Square, Market Street, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 1JD