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The Ridge SANG is found to the west of Shinfield, off Hyde End Lane. It provides an enjoyable walk through semi-natural habitat and long-distance views to the north from the prominent ridgeline. It is readily accessible from Shinfield and has safe pedestrian routes through other areas of green open space, including Langley Mead.

It is due to formally open on Saturday 6 July 2024. However, improvement works will continue throughout the year.

Circular internal footpaths connect to wider circular walks of around 2.5km across the Ridge SANG and May’s Farm Meadows SANG collectively once they are both delivered. These then link to a further longer distance path connecting many of the green spaces together, from The Ridge to High Copse to Langley Mead.

Map of planned sports and recreational facilities in Shinfield

The majority of paths will be mown grass, in places with supporting harder surfaces beneath to allow it to be used in wetter winter months. Some routes will be surfaced with bound gravel or hoggin, allowing access throughout the year. Information boards and waymarkers will encourage people to learn about the local environment.
A 10 space car park is accessible from Hyde End Lane. Hyde End Lane also has two pedestrian crossing points that connect the longer circular route between the Ridge SANG and May’s Farm Meadows SANG, providing longer walks around the green spaces of Shinfield. A Park Ranger will act as the local focus for conservation activities and recreational uses.

An essential function of the Ridge SANG will be to attract people who want to walk a dog, and they can be let off the lead for exercise at any point in the SANGs at all times of the year.

At time of writing, the Ridge Car Park, the crossing points over Hyde End Lane and the northern half of the Ridge SANG (Phases 1 to 2) have been delivered. The remainder of the Ridge (Phases 3 and 4) will be delivered as required to serve development anticipated to come forward in the future.

 

What is a SANG?

A Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace is an area that is aimed at protecting a Special Protection Area (SPA) by mitigating the impacts of new development. SANGs provide an alternative space for recreational uses, relieving the pressure on more sensitive sites. An SPA is part of a European-wide network of sites of international importance for nature conservation. Surrounding these Areas are buffer zones in which development is constrained to prevent damage to the SPA itself. These are the SANGs.

The primary purpose of a SANG is to provide an alternative area to the SPA for recreation. The SANG also has to meet criteria set by Natural England that requires it to be perceived as semi-natural space with little intrusion of artificial structures, which allows valuable biodiversity to thrive.

The Ridge SANG seeks to provide a series of newly planted areas:

  • Lowland mixed deciduous woodland
  • Hedgerows comprised of native woody species of shrubs, with ground flora and climbers
  • Extensive areas of newly created species-rich mesotrophic (neutral) grassland (‘lowland meadow’) on the lower and mid-slopes of the ridge
  • Lowland dry acid grassland on the dry sandy and gravelly imported material on the top of the ridge
  • Ponds and surrounding damp grasslands at the lowest point to the north of the Ridge SANG.

New areas of acid grassland will be particularly attractive to birds, including breeding yellowhammer, linnet, and potentially skylark. Barn owls, kestrels, fieldfares and redwings will also have improved foraging habitats at various times of year.

Grazing

The grassland will be managed with seasonal grazing, which has operated now for several years at Langley Mead. Grazing is the most natural, beneficial, and sustainable way to restore, manage and, ultimately, sustain species-rich grasslands. The benefits to biodiversity of grazing include:

  • control of the development of scrub
  • preventing the development of rank species-poor swards
  • creating structural diversity
  • providing essential small patches of bare ground for the establishment/regeneration of species.

Careful consideration has been given to the interaction between dogs and cattle. Grazing stock will be selected for docility and grazing will take place seasonally over only a limited area at any one time. The core herd will be hefted to the SANG complex, knowing the area well and becoming used to the presence of people with dogs.

If you would like more information on the project, please go to our Ridge SANG Management Plan.