This is a privately-owned (family trust) 100-acre former sand quarry. The operation ceased 30 years ago and the site has since gradually filled to become one of Surrey’s largest water bodies, part of which comprises a shallow lagoon area suitable for open swimming. The site is part of a much larger farming estate in Surrey.
The Trust sought to bring it back into use and proposed a number of uses to achieve a sustainable income. Having set the broad objectives of attracting 30,000 visitors a year and a sustainable business model around new activities, the trust appointed Stephen McKenna to oversee the implementation process. This example of privately owned and sustained stewardship involved developing of the design concept overall and securing necessary planning approvals – including negotiating the Landscape and Ecological Management Plan, managing the RPA grant application process and managing the works programme with civil engineering and other contractors (such as securing safe existing high voltage lines into the site).
Stephen delivered a new Outdoor Pursuits Hub building with a meeting room, a new car park with drainage infrastructure, a new lakeside café offering elevated views and suitable for disabled access, and various other enhancements – all whilst ensuring the site retained its natural areas of native ancient woodland and heathland, reedbeds and other habitats, including high sandstone cliffs (preferred by sand martins as an important breeding area) and reshaping the shoreline. The site was opened to the public as a country park in 2020 and has built a sustainable income for the estate. This allows the site to receive ongoing long-term maintenance and renewals over time.