Hart halts all planning
Hazeley Heath is one of the largest tracts of lowland heathland in the region owned by Hart District Council, who manages the southern section of the common. The northern section is owned by the RSPB, and the whole area is a peaceful and relaxing environment for those wishing to enjoy nature at it’s best.
Unfortunately in the past 100 years an overwhelming 90% has been lost reducing the environment which is home to an array of plants and animals. It is because of this that it has now been made a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England. Not only this, but it is also part of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) due to its heathland birds. Three of these beautiful species include the Dartford Warbler, Woodlark and Nightjar, all protected by European legislation. As a result dog owners are asked to keep their dogs on leads between February and July due to ground nesting birds.
Protecting their habitat has led to Hart District Council coming to a complete halt in being able to grant any planning permissions, since summer 2016. Hart is encouraging people moving into new homes to walk their dogs in heather free areas so as not disturb this protected habitat and decrease the bird population further – because of this they are also looking for areas of land which are not SSSI protected to open up more spaces for walkers and dog walkers to use.
We are all waiting for Hart to find a solution so that planning can recommence not just for new housing requirements but also the effect it is having on the employment of local craftsman. The delay affects Hart because of the impact on both commuted payments and council tax payments too. It is therefore essential to find a way to protect the wildlife and their habitats but also progress with planning permission and local developments. It is understood that this may not resolve itself until summer 2017.
For more information read about Hazeley Heath SSSI here.
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