After very careful consideration of all the evidence by Natural England, it became clear that the area is of special interest for grassland, woodland and nightingales, which represent 1.3 per cent of the bird’s national population. It is one of the most important sites for nightingales in the UK. Natural England’s executive board therefore has a legal duty to designate it as a SSSI.
This involves the existing SSSI at Chattenden Woods being extended to incorporate the land at Lodge Hill. Letters of notification have been sent to relevant parties. They will have four months in which to make objections and representations about notification. Any such points which remain unresolved will then be considered by the Natural England Board which has nine months to decide whether to confirm or withdraw the SSSI notification.
This decision does not determine whether or not development can go ahead at the site; this is a matter for the planning system. Natural England will continue to engage with the local planning authority to contribute, as appropriate, to the planning process. In particular, we will consider carefully any proposals for a habitat creation scheme to offset the impacts on the special wildlife of the site, should development proceed.