Chargrove Nature Reserve - Past and Present
Up Hatherley Parish Council
In the 1980s, following the development of 70 hectares of land and the provision of 1600 homes, a community centre, shopping facilities and a school in Up Hatherley, the Engineers at Tewkesbury Borough Council (in which Up Hatherley was sited) had an innovative idea to do something that would compensate in part for the loss of hedgerows, ponds and other features that together create our unique countryside. At the time the Chief Engineer noted that with development and the pressures from intensive farming it was estimated that in England we had lost 125,000 miles of hedgerow and over 50% of marshes in the preceding 40 years.
Historically the role of the local authority engineers had been focused on development infrastructure such as new highways, sewers and land drainage improvements, but they took the opportunity to improve the existing farm drainage system running to the south and south west of the new development area and include an added ecological feature which became known as the Chargrove Nature Reserve.
Discussions were held with the Nature Conservancy Council and the local Trust for Nature Conservation and a plan was made whereby a long pond feature was retained, along with two poplar trees forming a prominent landmark and as much as possible of the ancient hedgerow. A new drainage channel was formed by-passing the pond and an outfall was formed from the pond to the enlarged drainage channel. The banks of the channel were seeded with a variety of wildflower seed appropriate for the soil type and a selection of indigenous trees were planted. It was a challenge to carry out this work, with mixed reactions from land owners and the Water Authority but the scheme was well supported by Up Hatherley Parish Council and in the early years was managed well by both the Parish Council and the local Trust for Nature Conservation.
In 1991, there was a boundary review resulting in the urban parts of Up Hatherley being moved into Cheltenham Borough and, despite protestations from our Parish Council, all the rural features on our boundary stayed in Tewkesbury. Tewkesbury retained all the land to the south of Up Hatherley Way, the Nature Reserve, the old M&G sports ground and all the land from the new Cold Pool Lane Sports field to the South West. The Nature Reserve was in Shurdington Parish and the old M&G and Cold Pool Lane areas were in Badgeworth Parish. This weakened the Parish Council’s influence over its rural fringes.
Over the following decades, although the Nature Reserve still stands, it has not been managed, has suffered vandalism, is a dumping ground for litter and is overrun by brambles. The pond is not retaining water and this devalues the ecological value of the site. We are in ongoing discussions with Shurdington about how the Reserve might be restored to its former glory and hope to report back positively next year with our progress with this project.
Find Up Hatherley Parish Council
Up Hatherley, Cold Pool Lane, Up Hatherley, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL51 6JA