Horsell Common wetlands project to top £1million

HORSELL Common is set to undergo a massive revitalisation in a bid to encourage more wildlife in the borough.

The 17-acre site in Chobham Road, which belongs to the Horsell Common Preservation Society, is being transformed from an industrial eyesore into an aquatic haven.

A total of 6,000 plants are set to be rooted at the new wetland which will shoot up on the plot of former Heather Farm.

HCPS have commissioned the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust from Slimbridge in Gloucestershire to design the new scheme, and contracted Land & Water Ltd as the landscape experts.

HCPS estate manager, Paul Rimmer, said: “We cannot afford to do a complete planting scheme across the entire site, so we are looking for assistance to plant in sections, which will help natural regeneration occur.”

The wetlands project is estimated to cost around £300,000.

The HCPS has issued a plea for residents to rally round their family and friends in a bid to plant the newly arrived reeds, marsh marigolds and water plantain. Paul added: “Any help would be much appreciated as the plants are still in their pots and need to be put in the ground immediately.”

With a 2014 completion target, the site will be open to the public and accessed from a free car park, which will also include a bike rack and a rain shelter.

HCPS chairman David Robbins added: “While Heather Farm is designed to attract wildlife, our management team are very keen for it to be an area for the public to enjoy.”

Visitors will be able to walk the wetland area to view the wildlife from hide screens overlooking the main body of water and through specially created raised grass pathways meandering through areas of woodland.

Boardwalks will be constructed in the wetter areas, allowing access to a number of smaller ponds around the site.

A wet fen habitat around the main body of water will increase ecological diversity.

It is hoped that wet ditch corridors will attract water voles, while the reed beds will become a haven for birds, dragonflies and other aquatic species.

Paul explained that groundwork at the site is expected to be finished by the end of April.

Following this, the Ecology Centre will begin its conversion from a warehouse building.

The complex will sit at the warehouse’s current home in Heather Farm. Initial cost estimates put the second phase of the project in the region of £1million.

The new centre will include a permanent education facility, nature trails through woodland, and dipping platforms on some of the ponds for schoolchildren to discover wildlife.

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