£110,000 to be invested in Chandler’s Ford Nature Reserve to ‘provide a more attractive environment’

Flexford Nature Reserve and Hiltingbury Lakes are set to receive funding of over £100,000 to improve site accessibility.

It comes after the local Ford and Hiltingbury committee in Chandler approved £260,000 for the restoration of Hiltingbury Lakes two years ago.

Flexford Nature Reserve is managed by the Hampshire Wildlife Trust and contains walking trails through the wooded areas of Upper and Lower Flexford.

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However, exposed tree roots and uneven trails made safety an issue when visiting the natural attraction.

As a result, Eastleigh Borough Council has announced that it will work alongside Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to improve surfaces throughout the nature reserve.

They argue the work will save hundreds of trees with exposed roots, protect and improve river banks and lead to a more sustainable area.

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But recent work on nearby Hiltingbury Lakes has received mixed reviews, with locals saying the area is in worse condition than before work began.

When work began in the area in 2019, concerns were also raised that the £260,000 project which planned to ‘remove invasive plants’ would disturb wildlife.

The first phase of work saw all laurels, rhododendrons, willows and alders and young trees felled, while mature alders with trunks over 250mm in diameter were retained.

However, Council Leader Cllr Keith House said: ‘We are really pleased with the latest work that has taken place at Hiltingbury Lakes, the improvements to the new bridge and fencing around the lakes have made a big difference to the overall look of the region. and I’m sure it will help attract more visitors in the future.

The council says essential maintenance work to footpaths, bridges and waterways has helped ‘return the popular beauty spot back to its former glory’ and further improvements are planned for the footpaths around the lower ponds more late this year.

Alongside the improved paths at Flexford Nature Reserve, the council also plans to put up better signage with information about the history of the site, including the animals and plants found there.

Cllr House concluded that: “Both Flexford Nature Reserve and Hiltingbury Lakes are places where locals go to enjoy the natural environment, walk their dogs and improve their physical and mental well-being.

“The development of green infrastructure will help improve accessibility for all users, provide increased access to valuable local green space and provide a more attractive environment.”

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