Land management charity The Land Trust recently exchanged on a conditional contract with LSL Partners, to acquire 17 hectares of SANG, Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace, in Guildford, to be known as Oldland’s Copse.

The purpose of SANG is to provide an alternative greenspace to attract residents of new developments away from the protected and vulnerable Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area.

LSL Partners currently owns the land and will undertake capital works to improve access and the overall quality of the site and its existing habitats of arable fields and poorly managed ancient woodland. Works will enhance biodiversity through the creation of wildflower meadows, rewilding areas and a wildlife pond.

The site will also benefit from investment in a new car park, circular footpaths, benches and interpretation boards to facilitate public access.

It’s envisaged that ownership of the site will transfer to The Land Trust, once the capital works are complete, by the end of 2022, and whilst the site is not being delivered for Biodiversity Net Gain purposes, the capital works and ongoing management will deliver biodiversity gains in perpetuity.

The Land Trust is appointing Surrey Wildlife Trust as their management partner for the site, drawing on their conservational expertise of greenspaces for wildlife and underpinned by its mission to protect nature for all.  Oldland’s Copse is already home to Skylarks as well as Bechstein’s and Barbastelle bats, so Land Trust and SWT will undertake careful management to maintain the existing populations.

Collectively, the two organisations will work to deliver the Trust’s vision of improving the quality of people’s lives by creating sustainable, high quality green spaces that deliver environmental, social and economic benefits.

Land Trust Chief Executive, Euan Hall said: “We are delighted to exchange contracts to acquire Oldland’s Copse and are committed to maintaining a greenspace that will provide opportunities for the local and wider community to connect with nature by safeguarding it as a public recreational site in the long term. Ancient woodland areas and wildflower meadows are vital to the ecology of the natural environment and alongside our Managing Partner, we will protect existing wildlife habitats and support the environment as a whole.”

Joe Heath, Business Development Manager said: “The Land Trust has managed to acquire a SANG in Guildford every year since 2018/19, and Oldland’s Copse will allow this trend to continue into 2022/23 bringing our Guildford portfolio to over 90 hectares across five sites.

“It is a great project to work on, and has been led by Garlick’s Arch Limited who are making a considerable investment in the SANG to ensure that it becomes an asset for the local community that will deliver social value forevermore. I’m looking forward to taking the land on later this year.”