Woking Borough Council
Civic OfficesGloucester SquareWokingSurreyGU21 6YL
Telephone: 01483 755855
In June 2010 Woking Borough Council commissioned the Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) to carry out an ecological assessment for two areas of Westfield Common which form part of a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) in relation to the provision of an access road and common land exchange proposal. The assessment focussed on the areas to the north and south of Westfield Way (totalling over 20,000sq m) and, in particular, on the areas which was involved in the common land exchange. Once the final Bidder has been selected to build and maintain the development they will carry out a larger assessment which will cover the whole development site.
The report confirmed that there are no ecological features of significant national or international value. However, Westfield Common SNCI has been designated as important as it supports nationally scarce plants in the Chamomile family and two great crested newts in two ponds. The area is described as being species rich areas of wet woodland, drains and ponds.
The survey recorded 109 species, none of which are rare or unusual. The survey also identified four ancient woodland indicator trees Red Currant, Remote Sedge, Pendulous Sedge and Holly. The areas of dense scrub were the most valuable wildlife habitat on a local scale.
A bat survey was also conducted, which looked for evidence of bats and roosting potential. There were no significant findings but if any roofs were to be removed a licensed bat worker should be employed.
A reptile survey was undertaken to determine the presence/likely absence of reptile species within areas of suitable habitat within the proposed access road and the exchange land and they would have to be specially protected to ensure they were not harmed during the development.
The aim of the Great Crested Newt survey was to see if any were present in the ponds within 500m of the proposed access road. Six ponds and numerous ditches were identified as potential habitats but only one fell within the access site area. The nearest breeding pond was identified on the opposite side of Westfield Road. The other sites would be surveyed by a different consultant. SWT have recommended that a method statement for the clearance of the area proposed for the access road should be prepared as a precaution.
A Management Plan has also been prepared by Surrey Wildlife Trust for the better management of both the proposed replacement common land and also the other areas of common land to the north and south of Westfield Way (totalling over 20,000sq m). This was prepared as part of the process of making an application to release 387 sq m of land (being less than 2% of the common land included in the Management Plan) from common land status in order to enable an access into the Priority Homes Development north of Moor Lane. This application was refused, but the Council intends to make a new application addressing concerns that were raised at the public inquiry.
The new application will include an additional area of land to the west of Willow Bank as replacement common land. The Management Plan will be revised shortly to reflect the additional area of land.
The Management Plan covers matters such as thinning trees, controlling litter, providing bat boxes, and construction of ponds. A copy of the initial Management Plan can be found here.
As mentioned above, the Management Plan has now been revised to include the additional area of land to the west of Willow Bank which is now being offered as additional replacement land as part of a revised application to release 387 sq m of land from common land status. The total area of land which is now being offered as replacement common land is 954 sq m. The Plan also includes the adjoining pond and the western bank of the pond so that the whole pond is included. The revised copy of the Management Plan can be found below.