What is a SANG?

A suitable alternative natural greenspace or “SANG” is a recreational area that can be used by the general public, and particularly, residents of new developments. The aim of a SANG is to encourage new residents away from designated sites which are vulnerable to increased recreational pressure.

The designated sites are part of the Natura 2000 network: Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). SPAs are designated to protect wild birds and their habitats while SACs are designated to protect habitats and non-bird species. Both SPAs and SACs are designated under the EU’s Wild Birds Directive and Habitats Directives, respectively. These directives are transposed into domestic UK law through the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. These regulations ensure that local authorities must ensure that any proposed residential developments will not undermine the protected status and sensitivity of these sites.

SANGS are required to be attractive and offer a level of amenity that encourages people to use it repeatedly, which serve to reduce numbers of people visiting designated sites. People visit the designated sites for a number of reasons and a SANG must try to accommodate for the same requirements where possible.

SANGS will likely be located on areas of low conservation value so that recreation impacts are taken away from sensitive areas. The overall ecological value, if starting low, is likely to be increased through its use as a SANG, where it can be actively managed for its biodiversity and enjoyment to users.

The size of a SANG can vary from relatively small (3ha) to large areas (>100ha). Depending upon the size of the area designated as SANG, the aim should be to supply a choice of walking routes of around 2.5km in length with both shorter and longer routes of at least 5km as part of the choice.

SANGS must be safe and give the impression of being as natural as possible. Furniture such as benches should therefore be kept to a minimum. The perception of ‘wildness’ to a site and a variety of habitats should be maintained to increase the biodiversity interest.

Managing a SANG

The responsibility of SANG management can fall to a number of interested parties. This can be local authorities, councils, charities with land management credentials or third-party management companies.

As part of the planning process, a SANG must have secured management in perpetuity – usually for a period of 125 years. They require active management to ensure that they are fit for purpose which will include ongoing maintenance works, involving local communities with SANG events and creating a diversity of habitats for the enhancement of nature.

Christchurch Environmental Management Ltd are responsible for the management of the Roeshot Hill SANG.