Canford Park

Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace

Canford Renewable Energy (“CRE”) propose the creation of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (“SANG”) together with associated infrastructure and amenity space at Canford Magna, in Poole.

A SANG is similar to a country park albeit with a particular purpose: to reduce recreational pressures on sensitive habitats and protect the species therein.  

This is achieved by creating natural green spaces that embody the same intrinsic landscape qualities but are simply more convenient to get to and enjoy.  

The Dorset Heathlands are of European nature conservation importance and designated as a Special Protection Area.  Heathland habitats and the protected species therein are considered particularly sensitive and vulnerable to additional recreational pressures. Under the Habitat Regulations, 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.

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. The creation of new natural green space at Canford Park 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.

A planning application for ‘Mineral extraction and restoration work and change of use from golf course to suitable alternative greenspace (SANG)’ was submitted to Borough of Poole in January 2016. In considering the proposal, the Planning Committee supported the principle of the proposed development, but expressed reservations about potential noise and dust impacts on neighbouring uses (in particular the dormitory accommodation at Canford School) during minerals extraction.

For this reason, the Planning Committee resolved to refuse planning permission. CRE listened carefully to the Planning Committee’s concerns and is in the process to exploring various alternative forms of mitigation, including the option of a buffer to Canford School.

However, this need to not hold up the release of part of the former Canford Magna Riverside Golf Course, which was not proposed to be subject to minerals extraction. As such, a simple planning application (ref: APP/16/01064/C) for ‘the change of use of part of the former Canford Magna Riverside Golf Course to a SANG’ has been submitted to Borough of Poole on 8th July 2016.

The application site measures approximately 47 hectares, encompassing the majority of Canford Magna Riverside Golf Course which closed in April 2016. The site enjoys good access via an established private road connecting with Knighton Lane and Magna Road (A341) via a light controlled junction. For the avoidance of doubt the existing club house and Park Cottages will sit outside of the application site.

The Canford Park Riverside SANG has the potential to open up a vast swathe (over 46 hectares) of private land to the public and deliver unprecedented access to the southern bank of the River Stour. The proposed SANG will offer a variety of circular walks, semi-natural spaces to explore and space for dogs to exercise. The application does not propose any physical works, albeit it would not prejudice planning permission being sought in the future for works pursuant to the desirable features of a SANG.

The SANG would be released in multiple phases subject to the receipt of contributions administered via CIL, direct payments or other means to mitigate the impact of additional development within Poole and surrounding authorities. CRE envisage that the first phase will see the release of a significant area (in excess of 12ha) to ‘anchor’ the SANG, create an attractive destination and instant draw. It is noteworthy that Borough of Poole has adopted a phased approach to the release of the 29.6ha Strategic SANG at Upton Park Farm ensuring timely mitigation.

The release mechanism, together with the finance required to manage the SANG in perpetuity will be a matter for further discussion with Borough of Poole, but would only need to be secured at the point at which the SANG provides mitigation for new residential development in Poole and / or Neighbouring Authorities.



The proposed Canford Park Riverside SANG will deliver the following benefits:

  • Opening up privately owned land within the Green Belt for public access;
  • Enhanced recreational opportunities for local residents, easily accessible via the Stour Valley trail or by road;
  • Displace pressure upon sensitive Heathland habitats;
  • The opportunity for ecological enhancement within the application site;
  • The proposed SANG is an appropriate use within the Green Belt and consistent with the purposes of Green Belt designation.

Consideration was given to the feedback received during community engagement on the previous proposal, as well as representations received by Borough of Poole during the determination of the previous application, in formulating the proposal for the Canford Park Riverside SANG

The application (ref: APP/16/01064/C) was submitted to Borough of Poole on 8th July 2016 and was accompanied by:

  • A Planning, Design and Access Statement, 
  • A Flood Risk Assessment 
  • A Tree surveys.

The planning application can be viewed on Borough of Poole’s website.


Subject to securing planning permission, the release of the SANG will be phased to reflect the receipt of development credits.

The SANG will be subject to ongoing management and maintenance. CRE foresees the day to day management of the SANG being undertaken by a not for profit company. Models for ongoing management and maintenance might for instance include placing a service charge on new dwellings. For the avoidance of doubt, there would be no charge (car parking or otherwise) for those using the SANG for recreation.

We would welcome your views on this project.  Please note that any comments relating to the current planning application should be addressed directly to Borough of Poole.

You can submit comments about this proposed application using our comments section.