Throop Nature Park is an exciting new area that opens up approximately 12 hectares of council green space along the River Stour that will offer people more opportunity to get outside and explore the great outdoors, meet up with friends and family, and improve their health and wellbeing.

Designed to help alleviate pressure upon sensitive heathland habitats, the Throop Nature Park will help to protect important species found within our internationally designated heathland nature reserves by creating an additional green space for residents to get outside and enjoy.

The Covid lockdown has reinforced the need for more locally accessible natural greenspaces to help both our physical and mental health.


Throop Nature Park will be a SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace). Consultation has closed on the proposals and previous feedback has helped to inform a revised planning application. This revised planning application seeks to address some of the Planning Committees previous concerns, and so has been revised in the following ways;

  • The layout, position, surfacing and entrance to the car park has been adjusted. The width of the entrance is reduced, and uses more sympathetic kerbing and fencing materials. Signage is reduced and relocated to minimise impact upon the Conservation Area.
  • Increased bunding and additional planting is proposed around the car park area to screen this and reduce the visual impact.
  • Reinforcement of existing planting beyond the site boundary is also proposed to further mitigate more distant views towards the car park.
  • Improved footpath links to aid pedestrian permeability.
  • Increased number of disabled parking spaces to ensure equality of access.
  • Extension of proposed fencing along the bank of the River Stour to increase protection of riverside habitats.

The application reference number is 7-2021-7824-C and can be viewed via the following link;


(Click to enlarge)

SANG’s are purposely designed to provide an attractive environment to encourage passive recreational uses that might otherwise take place on the Dorset Heathlands, which are of European nature conservation importance and designated as a Special Protection Area.1  

As a result, all new housing developments in Poole and Bournemouth make a financial contribution towards a package of mitigation measures, including the creation of natural green space.  This has already led to the creation of 30 hectares of new natural green space at Upton Park Farm in Poole and over 14ha of new natural greenspace at Canford Park in Bearwood. The creation of natural green space accessible to the public at Hicks Farm would complement this and help to meet the needs of future generations.

Natural England's 'Guidelines for the Creation of Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space' describes the required features, including:

  • A network of well maintained footpaths offering circular Walks of 2.3 - 2.5km;
  • Car parks that are easily accessible, well-signposted and offer safe pedestrian routes;
  • Include open walking areas;
  • Variety of habitats;
  • Offer unrestricted access & space for dogs to exercise; and
  • Semi-natural spaces with little intrusion of artificial structures.
  • Desirable features include; gently undulating topography, open country character with areas of dense trees, scattered scrub or open water and focal points.

1 Heathland habitats and the protected species within them are considered particularly sensitive and vulnerable to additional recreational pressures. Under the Habitat Regulations, housing developers are required to demonstrate that proposals for new development would not result in harm to sites of European nature conservation importance either in isolation or in combination with other schemes or developments.


SANG’s have been around for some ten years and are now a common feature in Dorset and Hampshire. SANG is required in order to enable new development in Bournemouth and Poole including the regeneration of town centre sites such as the redevelopment of the former Winter Gardens for new housing by displacing recreational pressures upon heathland habitat.

You might recall that consultation on proposals for the reuse and conversion of the Hicks Farm buildings was held in summer 2018 following the receipt of a small grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) to undertake an initial feasibility study. BCP Council are awaiting further advice/feedback from the NLHF for the next stage of work and hope to make further announcements in due course.

We would emphasise that proposals for the SANG are entirely separate, with funding in place from developer contributions. The two schemes are nonetheless compatible and would readily integrate in the event that the farm buildings are re-used or converted at a later date.


Throop Nature Park has the potential to open up a vast swathe of land to the public and deliver access to the southern bank of the River Stour. This proposal will offer a variety of circular walks, semi-natural spaces to explore and space for dogs to exercise. The application proposes physical works to construct a small car park,footpaths, dog access area to the river, stock proof fencing, seating, signage and new planting only. A management plan will accompany any planning application setting out more detailed features, such as interpretation boards, creation of destination points, installation of waymarkers, installation of rustic furniture, as well as a management regime. 


View northwards from Throop Road at entrance to existing footpath/cycleway


View to south west from boardwalk section of existing footpath/cycleway


View to south west from existing footpath/cycleway adjacent to river


View northwards from existing public footpath past
Throop Mill


View to south west from adjacent to river


View to north west from adjacent to river


View northwards from field gate at edge of the site


View to south-west from field gate at edge of the site


View from Watery Lane towards existing field access


View to north west from existing access strip to rear of properties on Watery Lane


View to south east from existing access strip to rear of properties on Watery Lane


View to south east from existing access strip to rear of Hicks Farm


View to north east from field gate adjacent to Hicks Farm


View eastwards from field gate behind woodland belt along Taylor Drive


View to south east from Taylor Drive


View to south east from land adjacent to Taylor Drive


The proposed Throop Nature Park will deliver the following benefits:

  • Open up privately grazed land, including 400m close to the banks of the River Stour, within the Green Belt for public access;
  • Provide enhanced, easily accessible, recreational opportunities for local residents;
  • Improve health and well-being;
  • Displace pressure upon sensitive Heathland habitats to protect important species and meet the needs of future generations;
  • Deliver ecological enhancements.
  • Funded from financial contributions collected from local developments and not funded through Council Tax contributions

A number of technical assessments have been completed to consider potential impacts upon ecology, trees, highway safety, heritage, flood risk and landscape, as well as opportunities for enhancement.

The planning application is accompanied by a Planning Design and Access Statement, a suite of plans and drawings, as well as technical reports.

Proposed Layout


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The revised application has now been submitted. The Local Planning Authority would aim to determine the application within 13 weeks although it could take longer.

Subject to securing timely planning permission, Throop Nature Park would be delivered at the earliest opportunity.

The scheme will be maintained and managed by BCP Council.


Contact Us

For further information regarding Throop Nature Park,  please contact Chapman Lily Planning on 01929 55 38 18.