Representatives of the Community Group Committee met with DJC Property Management and the site-wide ecologist on 4th July 2018. The purpose of the meeting was to gain more information about the role of the ecologist and to better understand what can and cannot be done with the communal areas of managed land.
It is important to note that a Landscape and Nature Conservation Management Plan is in place which is designed to preserve the communal areas in and around the Channels development, to maintain wildlife and to protect the great crested newts by providing the appropriate hibernacula. A copy of this plan has been requested.
Taking into account the habitat which was previously in place in the area which the Channels development now occupies, there was never any intention to provide “manicured” communal areas and The Landscape and Nature Conservation Management Plan reflects this. Whilst comparisons might be made to Beaulieu landscaping, the Channels development was never intended to replicate this and as such this should not be used as a benchmark to compare against.
The ecologist and a member of his team currently attend Channels every 2 weeks for a full day. This is an increase to the frequency of previous visits and has been agreed with the developers involved in all phases and the Site Wide Management Company. They are responsible for ensuring that everything is being maintained in line with The Landscape and Nature Conservation Management Plan and this includes making regular repairs to the fences put in place to protect the newts and inspecting the tunnels used by the newts (across the whole site not just the Channels development area). This has recently resulted in an increase in the Service Charge however it is expected that in the long term the frequency of their visits will be reduced and the savings from this will be passed onto residents.
Both the ecologist and head gardener are open to working with the Channels Residents Community Group. However the ecologist made it clear that any specific requests will need to be signed off to ensure they are in line with The Landscape and Nature Conservation Plan however he will be pragmatic and work with us to create areas which are for the benefit of all residents.
The ecologist has also offered to provide additional visits to the site and guidance to our group in support of what we are trying to achieve, at no extra cost. This will be arranged via DJC Property Management.
The Community Group Committee will assist in educating existing residents about the overall ecology and will work with DJC Property Management to arrange appropriate signage to prevent residents damaging ecological areas. We continue to encourage feedback via the Community Group on all communal landscaping matters, rather than residents taking things up individually with DJC, as this will ensure consistency of approach.
There are a number of specific areas around the development where improvements can be made to planting and weed control that we are currently discussing with DJC Property Management and we will provide updates in due course. There are also a number of broader issues that have been covered by the Estates Report submitted to Bellway for which a response is due by 31st July 2018.
Please do continue to provide feedback and log concerns via the Community Group website and you can be assured that all comments are taken into consideration even though you may not receive a personalised response.