Green Space and Visitor Management Strategy

Commissioned by the university in late 2014, the Green Space and Visitor Management Strategy addresses the requirement for managing the existing on-site green space and increasing the accessibility of the green space to students, staff and visitors.

The strategy responds directly to requests from Natural England in response to the Estate Plan vision for the campus to 2031. The Strategy demonstrates a minimum commitment that was later assimilated into a wider ‘Landscape, Grounds and External Spaces Strategy’. This latter document, designed to encompass landscape and ecological management regimes for the campus can be found here.

As part of the outline planning permission for the Estate Plan to 2031, the campus has the capacity to bring forward c.2,650 additional student bed spaces. The Green Space and Visitor Management Strategy formed part of a bespoke mitigation and future protection package for the campus to mitigate potential impacts on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBHSPA).

The strategy sets out a green space and footpath package that will be available in perpetuity, to avoid any adverse effect on the TBHSPA arising from the development of student residences on campus.

This strategy has been defined by key areas based on their current and expected use:

  • The arboretum
  • Ripley Springs and Queens Copse
  • Canada Copse
  • Founder’s Meadow.

The key principle is to link the semi-natural green spaces on the campus in order to produce and sign-post longer and more circular walking routes. This is to be achieved in a number of initiative:

  • Provide a new route through the existing mature vegetation along the southern boundary with Prune Hill. This would link Founder’s Meadow with the woodland edge to the back of student halls of residence and on to the existing sports area on Nobles Field
  • Provide a new route from the Nobles Field /eastern end of Canada Copse connecting to the route along the eastern edge of the campus (a longer circular walk) to Ripley Springs and Queens Copse
  • Those footpaths already proposed as part of the Vision for Ripley Springs, Queens Copse and the Arboretum should be brought forward to make these less accessible or known about areas usable spaces for students, staff and visitors
  • Any new paths should be constructed of semi-natural materials that are suitable to the setting and expected use. The paths should be free-draining and open all year round (excepting university closure periods and private events where access may need to be restricted)
  • Removal of the low-level timber knee railing within Canada Copse, thereby reducing some of the visual barriers and in turn improving the appearance of the semi-natural environment.

Figure 1: Green Space Networks – existing (2015) and proposed

Figure 2: Proposed accessible (step free) routes through the green space

  • As part of this Visitor Strategy, a range of site furniture will be installed that is sympathetic to the context of the woodland and will aid way finding, education and encourage further use of these areas. Information boards will enable the users to identify their location and will include maps, routes and directions. Interpretation boards will provide information relating to the ecology and history of the area
  • Where foliage is to be cleared to install walking routes, Royal Holloway will endeavour to limit this to the removal of invasive species. In order to manage the impact of thinning on the ecology, flora and historic setting, the removal and replacement with non-invasive species will be phased in location and timings.

Phasing

The strategy will be implemented in phases as the additional student accommodation is developed on campus.

The first phase of student accommodation, George Eliot Hall, has since been completed and is occupied. The implementation of all the required elements and infrastructure ( the ‘Works’) as shown on the respective area ‘Detail Plans’, have, or will take place as follows:

The works to area 2 (the arboretum) was completed prior to the occupation of the 101st unit of additional student accommodation to be provided north of the A30.

The works to areas 4, 5 and 6 (Canada Copse and Founder’s Meadow) shall be implemented prior to the occupation of the 101st unit of additional student accommodation on the main campus south of A30.

The works to area 3 (Ripley Springs) shall be implemented prior to the occupation of the 601st unit of additional student accommodation on the main campus south of the A30.

In this regard, no new student accommodation has been delivered in this year since outline permission was granted in April 2015. Notwithstanding this, the university intends to bring forward the Ripley Springs project in advance of additional student accommodation. Works to the weir and pond offer advantages to a sustainable urban drainage system which would support academic development in the northern part of the site.

It is ultimately intended that, in conjunction with the wider Estate Plan strategy, the green spaces will be linked via routes through the developed parts of the campus, with additional signage and information points in these areas.

The “Landscape, Grounds and External Spaces Strategy” can be viewed here.

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