Special Places

The UK is home to many wonderful areas and sites which have their own distinctive character and are much-loved. Yet they can be challenged by environmental change, user damage, insufficient finance, inappropriate development proposals, or a combination of problems. Green Balance helps by identifying what makes places special and recommending strategies for their management and improvement. We advise on charting ways forward which are likely to work and be supported by other interested parties.

Our work to protect National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and heritage properties is described on other pages.

Cotswold Water Park

Holiday-let chalets at Lake Pochard, near South Cerney, Cotswold Water Park; a match-fishing area is behind the bank on the right hand sideThe Cotswold Water Park is an area of around 40 square miles in the upper Thames valley on the Gloucestershire/Wiltshire borders which has been heavily worked for sand and gravel over the last 40 years. The high water table has ensured that restoration is mainly to lakes, 150 so far. These are used for a great variety of leisure purposes and also offer opportunities for creating wildlife habitats and supporting lakeside developments. The Gloucestershire Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Cotswold Water Park Trust, a charitable body which champions the area, commissioned Green Balance in autumn 2015 to examine how far the Water Park Management Plan remained fit for purpose and to advise on reinvigorating partnership working across the area. Our report The Cotswold Water Park: Implementing the Management Plan was based on 20 lengthy semi-structured interviews with key local parties. These included local authority officers and councillors, mineral companies, landowners, businesses, town and parish councils, and special interest organisations. Our report found that much more could be done to create a sense of place with practical support from all parties. Priorities for action were recommended, beginning with identifying the long term landscape results desired from future mineral working plus biodiversity and public access strategies. Much more could be done to integrate the objectives for the Water Park into the land use planning system. We found enthusiasm for improved engagement with local and other interested parties, through communications, branding and marketing. The Cotswold Water Park Trust is now leading the efforts to take forward the recommendations.

National Trust Properties

A tranquil stretch of the River Wey seen from a narrowboat: the principal means of movement on the waterGreen Balance has advised the National Trust on the practical management of a number of properties including three of its most heavily visited and challenging in the country: the River Wey Navigation, Wakehurst Place and the Studland peninsula.  The River Wey navigation is a part- river, part-canal property of approximately 20 miles by 30 metres.  It has 8,000 neighbours and considerable competition between user-groups for access to its towpath, banks, waters and water surface.  Green Balance consulted widely on draft policies which helped to forge a management strategy.  The aim was for each interest to achieve its main aspirations while respecting the others, consistent with Acts of Parliament establishing the purposes of the National Trust and setting out the responsibilities of the Navigation’s Commissioners.  We also oversaw the preparation of a landscape strategy which would protect this precious resource in Surrey for all to enjoy.

Sign on Studland beachStudland is a heavily protected landscape and wildlife resource on the Dorset coast west of Poole Harbour, with over 1 million visitors a year, a shifting beach and significant conflicts of interest between users groups.  Our management plan presented options for resolving the difficulties.

In the grounds of Wakehurst PlaceWakehurst Place is leased to the Royal Botanic Garden Kew for 99 years and is also one of the Trust’s most heavily visited pay-to- enter properties.  Green Balance advised the Trust on the compatibility of the management regime with the Trust’s interests, including the planting programme (partly in response to the 1987 hurricane).

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Key resources:

Cotswold Water Park MP Implementation

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