A Croydon MP says that residents have a “fantastic opportunity” to take part in a public consultation which could see parts of his constituency, such as Farthing Downs and Happy Valley, Coulsdon Common and Rddlesdown, added to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Chris Philp, Conservative MP for Croydon South, says that he is “delighted” that some of Croydon’s best-loved natural open spaces are being considered under Natural England’s consultation to expand the boundaries of four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including the long-established Surrey Hill AONB.
“These proposals have the potential to deliver more than 1,600 additional square kilometres of protected land,” Philp said.
“This comes as part of the government’s commitment to protect 30 per cent of our land by 2030 for nature. The boundaries of the Surrey Hills AONB are included in this review and I am delighted that potential candidates for areas of outstanding natural beauty include Farthing Downs, Happy Valley, Coulsdon Common and Riddlesdown,” Philp told Inside Croydon.
More than 1,000 acres of Croydon open spaces, mostly managed on behalf of owners the City of London Corporation, were granted National Nature Reserve status in 2019, bringing together Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), including the rare flower-rich chalk downs, and other sites of value to wildlife, while offering additional planning protection from rapacious development.
AONB status ups those protections considerably.
AONBs represent some of England’s most outstanding and treasured landscapes, whose special qualities are so precious that it is safeguarded in the national interest. AONBs are equivalent to National Parks in terms of the national importance of their natural beauty.
The Surrey Hills AONB boundary has not been reviewed since it was originally designated in 1958.
“I know that there have been repeated calls by local campaigners to reconsider the boundary,” Philp said. “Including parts of our local area in the Surrey Hills AONB could help preserve the natural environment and heritage while providing an opportunity to support people’s health and wellbeing through access to nature.
“The consultation is considering areas of high scenic quality including chalk grassland, parkland and historic features.”
The first stage of the consultation runs until January 31. After this, further fieldwork and evaluation will take place, followed by the identification of candidate areas by June this year.
The call for evidence is asking for locations accompanied by a photograph and description of the special qualities of the location, such as the landscape quality and tranquillity, as well as any additional supporting comments.
Philp said, “This is a fantastic opportunity for our area, and I hope that you take part in the consultation.”
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