At present the golf course itself is not formally accessible to the local community. Many local residents do access the site on a daily basis, especially for dog-walking, but this is an informal arrangement.
The buildings, roads and parking proposed as part of our scheme occupy less than 20% of the site; the remaining 82% of the site is retained as open land. Due to health and safety requirements and recent court cases regarding injuries to the public, the Golf Courses and driving range must be fenced. However, other new green space and recreation areas will become publicly-accessible open space.
There are existing Redways which run around the north and west of the site and along the northern part of Tattenhoe Lane, as well as three short sections of existing public footpaths around the margins of the site. These will be incorporated into a proposed wider network of publicly-accessible footpaths around the site, which will make sure that ‘desire lines’ for people wishing to access the site are catered for, and which in turn will connect with the Redway and leisure route network in the surrounding area. These footpaths – the alignments of which will be settled as part of the detailed landscape design of the golf course and wider site - will be designed to provide routes which are overlooked and able to be well maintained. Subject to the agreement of the organisations who manage the footpaths, leisure routes and open spaces within the wider area, there is the potential for better signage and wayfinding to improve connectivity with the wider local network of Redways, footpaths and open spaces. This will assist those people wishing to do longer runs, walks or bike rides, particularly those through Tattenhoe Valley Park and onto Emerson Valley Park to the north.
Should the Salden Chase development go ahead, then there is also the potential to connect with any open spaces and leisure routes within Salden Chase to the west in due course.
A survey of the vegetation currently present on the golf course has been undertaken. This shows that it is unlikely that any of the trees predate the golf course. Accordingly, there is an absence of maturity in the tree stock and no presence of ancient or veteran trees.
The primary function of existing trees on the golf course is to define the fairways. Trees also act as a screen on the boundaries of the land. The trees on site are limited in terms of species diversity, with poplars being the majority of the large crown bearing trees, with much of the lower level trees being a selection of maples and birches. Cypress groups form the dominant evergreen components. Where planted in groups, there is a frequent over-dependence on poplars. This type of tree is noted for its poor structural performance and so there may be the need to remove and replace poplars which are old or becoming unsafe.
However, in the design and layout of the buildings and golf courses, we have sought to avoid the unnecessary removal of trees. Reconfiguration of the existing golf course will require a new planting scheme with some existing trees removed and replaced by new areas of planting. Trees on the boundaries will be retained and enhanced with new planting so that their functionality and integrity remains. Tree losses to accommodate access will be offset through the positive creation of formally planted avenues.
As we have a target of achieving ‘no net loss of tree cover’ on site, any tree that has to be removed (due to its age, condition or location) will be replaced and additional trees planted to enhance the overall landscaped nature of the site.
Where tree removal is unavoidable, a strong opportunity exists to introduce a new species palette, allowing for the introduction of more native tree species and cultivars. The extent of new planting provides an opportunity for increasing diversity in the structure of the tree groupings with the benefit of ensuring new trees are resilient to resist the effect of pests and diseases. The extent of new planting also provides an opportunity for succession planning when taking the maturity of the existing tree stock into account.
As part of the new golf courses, new water bodies are planned on site in the form of lakes which will provide a wide range of environmental benefits.
The new buildings and roads on site will increase the amount of impermeable area and therefore will increase the amount of surface water runoff in this location. Lakes offer an opportunity to attenuate (capture) this surface water, holding back the water from moving off-site.
Car parks will be constructed of ‘grasscrete’, a permeable surface which allows water to pass through to the ground below. This further reduces the surface water runoff.
A sustainable surface water drainage network (SuD) can help manage and convey surface water while providing attenuation and water quality treatment. This can be an alternative to traditional underground, piped systems and would incorporate sustainable drainage features such as swales, filter strips and flow spreaders. Providing several SuDS features in a series will enhance treatment as the slowed water passes through the different features and treatment mechanisms. This will improve air and water quality, microclimate management and biodiversity benefit, as well as preserve and enhance the attractive landscaped environment in this part of the site.
The lakes may also allow recycling of surface water and greywater to be used for irrigation of the golf course fairways. This would minimise the requirement for reliance on ‘potable water’ (coming from the mains system) for the general management of the site.
Water bodies also increase the opportunity to create new habitats on their margins. This would create the potential to attract more wildlife and improve the biodiversity within the site.