Update: South Hampshire District Group
News from the South Hampshire District
We normally report on the many planning threats across the board in South Hampshire, but as spring is arriving with bluebells and meadow flowers peeking through the grass, we thought we’d take a look at the many positive aspects of the countryside that surrounds the cities and urban areas of this part of the county.
There are over one million residents in South Hampshire and we believe that protecting this countryside is critical for their health and wellbeing, something that has been proved in the recent lockdowns, when we all relied on access to countryside and open spaces on our doorsteps.
In the area that CPRE Hampshire has proposed as a new Green Belt there are numerous public rights of way, criss-crossing the open countryside as well as hundreds of kilometres of long and mid-distance footpaths, the Wayfarers Walk, the Pilgrims Trail, King’s Way, the Itchen Way and the Solent Way.
There are country parks at Staunton, Alver Valley, Lakeside, Itchen Valley and Royal Victoria. And there are nature reserves at Southmoor, Farlington Marshes, Portsdown Hill, Wildgrounds, Titchfield Haven, Hook with Warsash, Swanwick Lakes, Wildern, and Testwood Lakes amongst others. This just demonstrates the importance of this area for wildlife, particularly protected birds such as Brent Greese and several species of waders.
There are a number of important areas of woodland, with public access, notably Havant Thicket, Creech Wood, West Walk, Botley Wood and Stoke Park Woods. Some of these include tracts of highly valued ancient woodland and are part of what used to be the Forest of Bere, one of the king’s old hunting grounds.
The area is steeped in history, particularly that associated with naval history and the area’s role in protecting our country’s seafaring supremacy. Dating from the 3rd century, Portchester Castle sits at the head of Portsmouth Harbour, while a group of Napoleonic forts line the high ground above at Portsdown Hill, of which Fort Nelson is open to the public. There are the remains of the Bishop of Winchester’s palace at Bishop’s Waltham and important abbeys at Titchfield Abbey, Southwick Priory and Netley Abbey.
This is not meant to be a tourist guide, but just to highlight why the South Hampshire group of CPRE believes we need to work to preserve and protect the very special qualities and assets that make this area so very special.
South Hampshire District Group Chairman