The site is on former agricultural land which is used for a mixture of grazing and equestrian activities. The equestrian activity mainly takes place between April and November. Part of the site is occupied by a former agricultural building which has been converted into two business units.
The main aim of the project is to make the site suitable for a wider range of equestrian activities, and in particular, to create a field specifically suitable for polo use. This entails levelling the field and improving the surface and drainage. The previous equestrian events generally take place on alternate Sundays and include a diverse range of activities, such as show jumping, dressage, cross-country, showing and in hand. These activities are open to participants of varying abilities, including disabled and “special needs” children, and attract a wide range of local people aged between3ys and 80+yrs. In addition to facilitating the introduction of polo into this well established, and attended, programme of events the improvements will create a surface that better suits the other equestrian uses. This, in turn, will form a grass-roots basis for the establishment of a polo club at Oakwood Park, which it is understood will be affiliated to the Hurlingham Polo Association.
Rural Arisings Ltd worked with the client and her Agent, Huntsworth LLP, to design the new facility and prepared the planning application undertaking the environmental impact assessments, landscaping, habitat and tree surveys and transport analysis required. A number of constraints were identified and accommodated including:
· Retention and protection of the mature tree lined boundaries of the site,
· Allowing the business use to continue uninterrupted,
· The limited plan form of the site,
· The presence of steeply sloping areas,
· Landscape impact,
· Increased runoff and surface water management,
· Habitat enhancements,
· Access complications associated with an entrance onto an open and fast section of the A22 Trunk Road.
With planning permission obtained we are working with the contractor, Matthews to implement the construction. This includes removing the existing topsoil and re-profiling the landform to create a gently sloping pitch. The constraints posed by the site means that it is necessary to import suitable soil materials which in turn means the incorporation of temporary haul routes and wheel cleaning provisions. The soil is being imported under the recently introduced CL:AIRE Code of Practice for the Direct Transfer of soil materials from one site to another. This dictates that clean naturally occurring soil is used and this is compatible with the intended recreational use of this site after completion.
In addition a low, grassed mound is to be constructed on one side of the pitch for spectators. This will be usable for both polo and other equestrian events. No engineering work is to be undertaken at the site boundaries and the existing boundary trees and hedgerows are being retained. New tree, hedgerow and wildflower meadow planting is proposed to enhance landscape and biodiversity value of the site. Surface water runoff will be attenuated in a new swale and reed-bed.