National Character Area 114

Thames Basin Lowlands - Detailed Statements of Environmental Opportunity

This section expands on the Headline Statements of Environmental Opportunity and provides further detail on each of the Statements of Environmental Opportunity.


SEO 1: Maintain and restore the natural functions of the rivers Wey, Mole, Hogsmill and Wandle at a landscape scale, providing improvements in water quality and water availability and helping to regulate water flow while reducing pollution and the risk of flooding to benefit biodiversity, geodiversity and enhance a sense of place.

For example by:

  • Encouraging the use of water recycling and the use of greywater systems.
  • Promoting water resource efficiency amongst all consumers through water metering, careful use of water and installation of water efficient devices.
  • Encouraging the prevention of water leakage through the renewal and improvement of pipe and sewer infrastructure.
  • Ensuring that all new development is built to the highest water efficiency standards as set out in the Code for Sustainable Homes.
  • Restoring the natural functions and geomorphology of the Rivers Wey, Mole, Hogsmill and Wandle and reconnecting the rivers with their flood plains.
  • Allowing seasonal inundation of wetlands and flood plain grasslands as part of flood alleviation measures.
  • Protecting the flood plains of the rivers from development so that they have room to store excess water.
  • Raising awareness of the problems with overland flows caused by hard surfacing gardens;
  • Encouraging the installation of rain gardens and green roofs in urban and urban fringe areas to improve water absorption and ensuring that all new developments include sustainable drainage systems.
  • Reducing diffuse pollution in rivers and streams by managing existing or creating new permanent vegetation cover on riverbanks.
  • Encouraging the creation of backwaters as a refuge for aquatic species in times of drought.
  • Removing barriers and impediments to fish movement along rivers and installing fish ladders on weirs.
  • Identifying and removing non-native invasive species such as Himalayan balsam and signal crayfish from riverbanks and aquatic habitats.
  • Linking, extending, restoring and improving the management of meadows and wet pastures alongside the rivers promoting the planting of native species to strengthen and link riparian habitats where appropriate.
  • Encouraging the planting of native short rotation coppice, using native species where possible, to strengthen riparian habitats where appropriate.
  • Supporting opportunities through development and regeneration, to promote and interpret river-based industrial heritage.


SEO 2: Conserve and manage the semi natural vegetation and farmed landscape of the Thames Basin Lowlands to reduce fragmentation between the semi-natural habitats and enhance ecological connectivity, provide benefits for water quality, enhance biodiversity, strengthen the landscape character and increase a sense of well-being.

For example by:

  • Managing and restoring the historic network of field boundaries, including hedgerows and hedgerow trees, to allow them to function as corridors for wildlife and improve the landscape and visual appearance of the NCA as well as reducing overland flows.
  • Encouraging the planting of new species-rich hedgerows and field boundary trees, particularly oak, ash and field maple.
  • Conserving and managing ancient semi-natural woodland and broadleaved woodland through the uptake of woodland grant schemes.
  • Encouraging the re-introduction of traditional woodland management techniques such as coppicing and pollarding and encouraging the ongoing management of veteran pollarded trees, especially oaks on Ashtead Common National Nature Reserve.
  • Connecting and linking ancient semi-natural woodland through restoring and managing hedgerows and other woodland habitats and seeking opportunities to establish new woodlands of native trees.
  • Encouraging the conservation and good management of wood pasture.
  • Conserving, managing and restoring historic landscaped parklands where possible with their distinctive ornamental woodland features including avenues, roundels and specimen trees.
  • Encouraging the management and restoration of open heaths and commons and protecting their rich but fragile historic and natural environment through re-introduction of appropriate grazing regimes, bracken clearance and removal of secondary woodland.
  • Conserving archaeological and other historic features in the landscape with heritage interest, while recognising the potential for undiscovered remains.
  • Encouraging the adoption of good agricultural practices for soil, water and land management.
  • Raising awareness of the benefit of urban gardening for wildlife.
  • Promoting the use of allotments to provide sustainable, healthy food.
  • Encouraging the good management of Local Nature Reserves and other local sites so that they can act as stepping stones for wildlife, reduce the
    fragmentation of the semi-natural habitats and provide ecological links into and from Greater London.
  • Promoting the management of green space for biodiversity within Greater London.
  • Encouraging the management and planting of road verges with native wildflowers and grasses to develop as wildlife corridors and support pollinators.
  • Promoting and developing good horse pasture management.
  • Identifying and removing non-native invasive species, for example rhododendrons, from semi-natural grasslands and woodlands.
  • Supporting the implementation of the Surrey Hills AONB Management Plan.


SEO 3: Promote creative and effective sustainable urban development including a well-connected network of high quality green infrastructure in and around Greater London and other urban areas incorporating sustainable transport, while managing and enhancing public green space and recreational opportunities for local communities to enjoy, and to benefit biodiversity and landscape character.

For example by:

  • Engaging early in the scoping and planning of new developments to ensure that they maximise their contribution to sustainable development.
  • Ensuring that any development does not adversely affect the Surrey Hills AONB or the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area or Ashstead Common National Nature Reserve including through light noise and air pollution and additional recreational pressures.
  • Creating new areas of accessible green space and developing green corridors around towns to help divert recreational pressures from the designated habitats and landscapes within and adjacent to the NCA.
  • Ensuring new and infill buildings adopt a style, design and materials that are sympathetic to and reflect the local built heritage.
  • Encouraging understanding of the area’s traditional and historic architecture, and its distinct patterns of settlement, to inform appropriate conservation and use of historic buildings, and to plan for and inspire any environmentally beneficial new development which makes a positive contribution to local character.
  • Ensuring that any new development is connected to the existing public rights of way to form a cohesive network of sustainable access.
  • Encouraging the implementation of the Surrey Rights of Way Improvement Plan.
  • Ensuring all new developments incorporate well-designed, high quality green infrastructure.
  • Managing and maintaining existing green infrastructure, urban parks, country parks and local nature reserves, ensuring that they meet the needs of the local community.
  • Promoting the planting and management of trees in streets, social housing and other appropriate areas within the public realm.
  • Incorporating the planting of biomass into green infrastructure projects to buffer and screen new developments.

On this Page