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Environment

Comprehensive site survey and assessment work has been undertaken to understand the existing environment, avoid significant impacts on features of importance and enable mitigation to be identified where necessary.

Heritage

The site is located outside of the conservation area and is to the south of The Butts Conservation Area.

Archaeology was considered by the outline planning application. A condition was attached to the outline planning permission requiring further archaeological investigations to be undertaken before development commences.

Landscape

Public open space has been positioned at the highest point of the site, in accordance with the outline permission, to provide an attractive focal point that is easily accessible to future residents and is well overlooked to provide natural surveillance. The open space will include wildflower meadow, native tree planting and open amenity space to create a naturalistic space that is designed to make it an attractive space which can be used for a range of recreational activities.  The position of the open space has also been chosen to minimise visual impacts to the surrounding landscape.

Linked to the public open space will be an attractively landscaped mown pathway with wildfower meadow planting which will create an attractive alternative recreational route and a green corridor which will enhance the site’s ecological value by providing a network of diverse and linked green spaces.

There is mixed planting along the boundaries of the site including existing vegetative buffers between each phase of development; and between the site, Selborne Road and fields to the south which will generally be retained and strengthened. Enhanced planting along the Selborne Road site frontage will also help create an attractive entrance to both the site and the wider settlement of Alton. Retention and enhancement of existing field boundaries will also provide important ecological corridors through the site maintaining its permeability for bats, birds, small mammals and reptiles. 

Ecology

Extensive ecological survey work was undertaken for the outline planning application to determine the ecological value of the site and its surroundings. More recently update surveys have been carried out to ensure protected species data remains up-to-date and robust, in order to inform the ecological mitigation strategy delivered pre-construction.

The ecological survey work undertaken has identified a typical assemblage of foraging/ commuting bats (predominantly confined to the site’s boundaries), a serotine tree roost, a historic dormouse record (dated 2012, with no evidence of continued presence in 2016) and a small-medium slow worm population using the field boundary hedgerows and rough grassland. The interior of the site, being managed via intensive grazing has little intrinsic ecological value, such that development in this area would not result in significant negative ecological effect.

The ecological mitigation strategy for the site includes replacement tree/shrub/hedgerow planting in order to compensate for any habitat losses as a result of development, and the retention of key foraging/ commuting corridors around the site’s periphery in order to maintain site permeability for wildlife. Any works to remove trees and hedgerows will be timed to avoid bird nesting season, and retained habitats appropriately protected via standard tree protection fencing. Existing protected species, such as slow worms, currently residing within the hedgerow corridors, are proposed to be carefully translocated to an on-site area of enhanced tussocky grassland habitat with newly created basking and breeding sites prior to commencement of development. Any losses to bat roosting habitats will be fully mitigated under a European Protected Species licence with replacement roosting habitats provided. The proposals also provide a large area of species-rich wildflower meadow extending throughout the POS which will provide an area of ecological interest to a range of species occurring locally.

Water

Flood Risk

The site is designated as Flood Zone 1 - low risk by the Environment Agency and as such is appropriate for residential development in flood risk terms.

Surface Water Drainage

Surface water infiltration rates for the site have been confirmed to be appropriate for a permeating drainage approach. Consequently, the drainage strategy for the site includes private permeable paving for residential areas and granular drainage trenches beneath the roadways to prevent any increase in flooding on site or to adjacent existing properties. Where space allows, surface water may be drained to large cellular storage crates from several properties. The proposed drainage strategy will not change flow rates in offsite waterways, such as the Lavant Stream.

Foul Water Drainage

Foul water from the site will discharge into the existing foul sewer network.