We have put together a map showing some features of Fox Hill along the paths within the woods. Although the map is not to scale, it should give a good indication of where these features are. Some are already known, such as the “Snogging Logging” and the “Rhododendron Walk”, but for those of you who are relatively new to the woods, the map will help find them. It will also be a great way of spending walks in the woods with youngsters trying to find the features.
The map can be downloaded to your phone as your guide. A newer interactive version is currently being worked on which will be scalable and therefore easier to use.
Thank you to everyone who came along to join our Conservation Working Party on 13th December 2020. The weather was much kinder than predicted and a great deal was achieved.
We were recently given permission from WBC to work in two areas of the woodland and this is thanks to the support of a professional arboriculturist, who is acting as our agent and giving professional advice. We are also incredibly lucky to have the help of Steve Loyd, who has manged Ruscombe woods for many years. Steve is very knowledgeable about the use of traditional hand tools and managing native woodland for the benefit of nature.
We began our session with a quick introduction, confirming that everyone was aware of the risk assessments, and had submitted emergency contact details. Some tool instruction was given, and we then dispersed to different sections of the area to be worked.
One group tackled the Rhododendron, and a good section was reduced to ground level. This non-native invasive species blocks light, and our long-term aim is to increase the range of habitats and biodiversity in the woodland. The best option for removing Rhododendron is to burn it or use a chemical plant killer. Neither of these options were open to us, so it was decided to use the brash in our dead hedges. Dead hedges create natural barriers to protect areas from too much footfall and provide a valuable habitat for invertebrates and small mammals.
A second group edged pathways by pegging in the logs to reduce the risk of rolling, and a third group constructed the framework for the hedge. At 11.30 we stopped for a break, and to review the progress made, after which it was all hands on deck to move the brash and trunks of Rhododendron to the dead hedge area. Other tasks included planting native bluebells and moving dead wood where it was restricting the growth of living trees. Most of the dead wood was left in place as it provides another valuable habitat.
A successful hour of litter picking took place on 27th September 2020, organised by Liz and Steph. The two groups of 6 and 4 ensured compliance with the Covid-19 regulations. We all had our instructions given at the beginning of the event, ensuring social distancing was maintained. A majority of the rubbish found, such as drinks bottles, food packets, and broken glass, was by some bike jumps. We also found a sign on which someone had written a polite notice regarding litter.
Come and join us on Sunday, 27th September at 10:30 am. Meet at the Dorset Way entrance to Fox Hill woods opposite Heron park. Families are welcome.
Due to current Government regulations please RSVP with numbers attending to
Friends of Fox Hill are hoping to continue their conservation work in the woodland this Autumn. We are currently working with a professional aboriculturist to ensure that any work we carry out will enhance the biodiversity of the woodland. The work will also comply with the Tree Preservation Orders which cover the area. Meeting again will be dependent on government health guidelines.
Since September, monthly conservation activities have taken place in the woods with permission from the Localities Team at Wokingham Borough Council (WBC). This was under the supervision of experienced conservationists. Our sessions were fully insured, risk assessed, and very well attended by local residents.
In January, the WBC Planning Team advised us that before we could carry out any more work, we would need to make a formal application under the blanket Tree Protection Order (TPO) (20/1973) that covers this part of the woodland. We are currently in contact with a professional arboriculturist who has offered to assist us with this application. Unfortunately, the process is likely to be lengthy, but we are hoping to resume our monthly working parties in the autumn.
In the meantime, we are hoping to hold a session in March to remove some of the Rhododendron, which is an invasive species, and not covered under this particular TPO. This is dependent on obtaining the relevant permission from WBC.
We would like to thank everyone, who has participated in the conversation activities, for their support. We believe that community conservation activities are truly important, both for the maintenance of our beautiful woodland environment, its biodiversity, and for the promotion of enjoyment of natural green space by local people.
Note: The next Conservation Working Party due on 15th March 2020 is cancelled.
You will probably have recently received a document from the council entitled “Right Homes, Right Places“. The document is seeking residents’ views on the Draft Local Plan that has recently been published. Fox Hill is explicitly mentioned in the draft plan, with the council minded to allocate it as green space.
The Friends of Fox Hill have produced some guidance notes to assist residents in responding to the Local Plan Survey and why it is so important that you respond. We hope you find these useful. The full Draft Local Plan is a huge document, so in our guidance we’ve taken the time to highlight areas relating to Fox Hill and the wider natural environment.
Please do take a few minutes to read the guidance notes and complete the survey!
The survey closes on Friday 20th March.
Yesterday, Sunday 10th November, we had a public meeting to discuss the proposed SANG for Fox Hill. The slides from the afternoon’s presentations are available below, along with some notes on the ensuing questions and discussion.
FOFH are broadly supportive of the SANG, but have some concerns about the detail of the application which were discussed at the meeting. We will be commenting on the application as a group, but of course would encourage everyone to also comment as an individual using the portal as outlined in the presentation.
This document contains both the original presentation, and a summary of the questions and answers from the meeting. You can also download a PDF of the presentation for viewing offline.
We hope the information is of help in commenting on the planning application.
I am pleased to say that the application to recognise a network of Public Footpaths on Foxhill has been submitted to Wokingham Borough Council and the land owners today.
Using the evidence forms kindly completed by local residents we have compiled a network of walkable footpaths within the Fox Hill area and supplied evidence of their use for over twenty years. You will notice from the map that we have not claimed for every footpath on Fox Hill as there was not adequate documentary evidence to make a valid claim. The application is not to upgrade the footpaths into hard standing etc as we wish them to remain as they are today but properly recognised.
Please note this application is totally separate to the SANG application recently entered by Pike Sang Woods Limited (application number 192419) and is considered in a different way by the Public Rights of Way team within the local Council.
We will keep you updated on the application progress and thanks again to all who submitted evidence forms to us. This page will be updated to include a link to our application online once WBC make it available.
Tony, Friends of Fox Hill