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Rewilding Rookwood - a new opportunity for greater biodiversity

25 Feb 2021

A concept image of Rookwood Horsham. This image is for illustrative purposes only and shows local wildflowers and butterflies, open paths next to a lake and a lookout for birdwatchers

A concept image of a new-look Warnham Local Nature reserve as part of the Rookwood Horsham proposal. For illustrative purposes only.

Horsham District Council has developed an ambitious proposal for Rookwood that offers the opportunity to create one of the most sustainable development sites throughout Horsham District for everyone to enjoy.

If accepted as part of the Local Plan, the sensitively designed development would provide opportunities for expansion of the nearby Warnham Local Nature Reserve with the northern section of the site offering many possibilities for re-wilding, improving biodiversity, enhancing wildlife networks and enabling the community to get closer to nature with increased open public space.

The visionary concept has come about as a result of wide public consultation and the involvement from the outset of specialist ecological consultants and environmental experts.

Duncan McLaughlin CEnv MCIEEM, Associate Ecologist from leading design consultancy Stantec commented:

Carrying out an in-depth ecological assessment at the start of the Rookwood project has allowed key environmentally friendly features to be identified at the earliest stage of the scheme design.

We have ensured that the most important areas for biodiversity, in particular Warnham Local Nature Reserve, are protected, with development focused only on the areas of the site of lowest ecological value.

From the outset we have sought to create high-quality habitats for future wildlife and plant life, complementing the existing habitats on the site.

As a result of this, the scheme can deliver net gains to biodiversity.

The aim is to create an award winning scheme with the health and wellbeing of wildlife, the environment, landscape and people at its heart.

Some 70% of the site would be open space, including 103 acres dedicated to an expanded nature reserve and land open for full public use, with the potential to include allotments, community orchards and playing fields, encouraging a strong network of green infrastructure and open spaces.

Some of the many ecological benefits of the proposal would include:

  • A new public park and extension to the nature reserve, the northern section of the site offering huge possibilities for improving biodiversity, enhancing wildlife networks and enabling the community to get closer to nature
  • Green corridors and landscaping to protect and enhance habitats within the river ways of Boldings Brook and the Red River
  • New pathways for walking and cycling creating a less car-centric development, some 25 minutes’ walk from the town centre.
  • A new drainage system to deal with existing flooding problems in the area
  • The biodiversity of the northern site will be substantially improved and the development is expected to more than meet Government environmental criteria for biodiversity net gain.

The next version of the Local Plan (Regulation 19) will be published for consultation in spring 2021.

For more information please visit the Rookwood Horsham website.