The natural environment of Basingstoke and Deane

The borough council covers an area of about 245 square miles, the vast majority of which is countryside.

North Wessex Downs AONB

About 80 square miles towards the western edge of the borough is designated as part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and extends into other districts beyond the borough boundary. The AONB is a national designation that seeks to protect the special qualities of the area.

The council is a member of the Council of Partners for the AONB, which has an executive management team responsible for developing and coordinating activities and initiatives. Objectives and aims for the area are set out in the AONB Management Plan 2014-19, covering issues such as land management, biodiversity, historic environment, sustainability, development and communities.

Green Infrastructure Strategy

Green Infrastructure (GI) is a network of natural areas and other green open spaces that is vital to the health and quality of life of people in local communities and supports and enhances natural and ecological processes.

It benefits the public and the environment by providing attractive environments for outdoor recreation and exercise. It creates a sense of place; biodiversity enhancement; and other environmental benefits such as natural drainage to reduce flooding and helping us adapt to climate change. It can be used to help protect and plan the natural environment.

The borough has a very good range of green infrastructure assets, including:

  • Green Flag awarded parks in the heart of Basingstoke.
  • The Forestry Commission’s Basing Wood to the north of Popley.
  • Some of the country’s most precious wildlife habitats.
  • Many public rights of way.
  • Accessible open countryside areas.

The types of GI and their benefits are not evenly distributed and the maximum benefits are not always realised. We have produced a Green Infrastructure Strategy to address this. The strategy was adopted in July 2013 and a copy of the document and plans can be viewed below.

PDF document Green Infrastructure Strategy - Final Adopted Version (PDF, 2 Mb)

PDF document Green Infrastructure Strategy - Plans Volume 1 Adopted (PDF, 29 Mb)

PDF document Green Infrastructure Strategy - Plans Volume 2 Adopted (PDF, 41 Mb)

Landscape Assessment

Basingstoke and Deane has a varied pattern of landscapes, including

  • rolling chalk downland
  • pastoral river valleys
  • historic parkland
  • remnants of ancient forests
  • lowland farmland and woodland

It has a handful of farms, villages and hamlets, and a few larger settlements including Basingstoke. These areas are divided into 20 distinct landscape character areas which are described in the Landscape Assessment.

The Landscape Assessment Main Report was adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) in July 2001. It has been used in helping us to increase the effectiveness of development plan policies for the landscape, including formulation of a new landscape policy in the Local Plan Review.

The assessment was carried out in accordance with the Countryside Agency's national guidance on landscape assessment. This gives more emphasis to the protection of landscape character and features that make one landscape different from another, rather than better or worse. A fully integrated approach to landscape assessment was undertaken, drawing together historic, ecological and landscape elements into the characterisation process.

The assessment provides the basis for responses to development proposals affecting the landscape of the borough and assists the council and other bodies involved in making decisions affecting the future of the landscape. It also provided an objective basis for the preparation of the Countryside Design Summary for the Borough, and Village Design Statements.

Landscape and Biodiversity Strategy (Living Landscapes)

Protecting and enhancing the quality of wildlife habitats and the landscape have been identified as a high priority within the Council Plan. There are a number of factors that threaten the biodiversity of the borough, including:

  • global climate change
  • the lack of appropriate habitat management for individual sites
  • declining populations of many species nationally, with some at high risk of extinction.

Landscape character is affected by:

  • the loss of traditional rural land management practices
  • the introduction of suburbanising features into the countryside
  • the use of non-local building styles and materials.

Living Landscapes describes the habitats, landscape characteristics and species most in need of attention within the borough and sets out the council's approach to protecting and improving the natural environment, supported by a three-year action plan.

The current strategy was approved in August 2014 and can be downloaded below. Paper copies are available by emailing communityservices@basingstoke.gov.uk, phoning 01256 845261, or in writing Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council, Civic Offices, London Road, Basingstoke, RG21 4AH.

PDF document Living Landscapes Strategy (PDF, 2 Mb)

PDF document Living Landscapes appendices (PDF, 894 kb)

Managing land for wildlife - free practical habitat management

If you own or manage land in the borough, have you thought about ways in which it could be improved for wildlife?

We fund a scheme in partnership with the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) to provide free practical assistance with habitat management tasks on sites such as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) to benefit wildlife in these areas.

The funding agreement is providing HIWWT with the financial support necessary to recruit a team of volunteers that will carry out practical habitat management works within the borough delivering benefits for wildlife in the area.

If you are interested in this offer please contact HIWWT on 01256 381190 or email Susanne Stoneman, Conservation Projects Officer: susanne.stoneman@hiwwt.org.uk

Farm hedgerow management advice

Hedgerows are an agricultural feature that can provide shelter for livestock and crops and prevent soil erosion across fields by cutting down wind speed. They also provide a rich and varied wildlife habitat, offering shelter, a supply of food, and a route linking different habitats along which wildlife can travel. They are also important in defining field patterns and contributing to the visual character of the landscape.

Please take a look at our leaflet; Hedgerows - a guide to their management which sets out suggested guidelines for successful hedgerow management for wildlife. It also includes information on sources of grant funding towards hedgerow restoration.

Funding for the natural environment

Below you will find links to a range of grants for environmental projects and to European LEADER areas within the borough that provide funding to support rural economic enterprises and rural communities. Many of these grants will require some match funding, but in some cases this can be in-kind contributions such as volunteer time.

Grants for community initiatives

Community Heritage and Environment Fund (CHEF)
To improve the funding process, we have combined a number of grant schemes into a single scheme. From 2017/2018, project proposals that were previously considered through the CHEF should be directed to the Local Infrastructure Fund.

Awards for All
Grants of between £300 and £10,000 to help improve local communities and the lives of people most in need, including improved rural and urban environments - which communities are better able to access and enjoy. This grant is provided by the Big Lottery Fund, find out more from the Awards for All England website.

Grants for projects in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Sustainable Development Fund (SDF)
Grants, typically up to £5,000, but exceptionally up to £25,000 for projects that help to deliver the North Wessex Downs AONB management plan. The SDF aims to develop and test new ways of achieving a more sustainable way of life in this area of great beauty and diversity. The SDF is currently closed for applications.

For further information, visit the North Wessex Downs website.

North Wessex Downs LEADER
Funding for farmers, foresters, rural communities and other rural businesses to assist projects that will:

  • help make farming and forestry become more environmentally sustainable and economically viable

  • strengthen rural communities and improve quality of life

  • promote local food

  • encourage the use of wood fuel.

Whilst funding applications are closed at the moment for the LEADER programme, visit the North Wessex Downs LEADER website which gives information on the future plans for it.

View a map of the North Wessex Downs and Loddon LEADER areas. Although the map is centred around the Borough of Basingstoke and Deane, both projects extend beyond our boundaries. Please visit the North Wessex Downs LEADER website to find further information.

Information on other grants may be obtained by searching through Grantnet or by visiting our grants webpage.

Gill Nethercott Centre Management Plan

The Gill Nethercott Centre is situated over a millstream on the River Test. It's an important site for wildlife, supporting an active population of water voles as well as other species. The centre features an innovative design using modern 'straddle stones' to raise the building off the ground, allowing the stream to flow below the centre and cause minimal disturbance to the banks. A management plan can be downloaded below.

PDF document Gill Nethercott Centre Management Plan (PDF, 3 Mb)

Parish conservations plans

Parish Wildlife Map Toolkit
We have assisted the Hampshire Wildlife Trust in producing a tool kit which will help local parishes with the preparation of parish wildlife maps. A parish wildlife map shows some of the key habitats and species within a parish, town or village boundary, created by surveys and background information. These maps can be linked to parish plans or village design statements or can help to identify ways to protect and enhance biodiversity locally. A copy of the tool kit can be downloaded below.

PDF document Parish Wildlife Map Toolkit (PDF, 2 Mb)

Contact details


Community Services team

Telephone: 01256 844844

Contact us

  • Contact us online
  • 01256 844844
  • Civic Offices
    London Road
    Basingstoke
    RG21 4AH
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