Local Planning Authority: Ashford and Maidstone

National Character Area(s): Low Weald

Postcode: TN27 9DD

OS grid ref: TQ 88457 46472

What3words: ///deeper.eternally.paths

Habitat units available

A total of 436 units are available from the following area and linear habitat types:

Grassland

146.36 units - Other Neutral Grassland (Medium Distinctiveness)

Heathland and Shrub

186.89 - Mixed Scrub (Medium Distinctiveness)

Woodland

0.93 - Lowland Mixed Deciduous Woodland (High Distinctiveness)

68.44 - Other woodland; Broadleaved (Medium Distinctiveness)

Ponds and Lakes

15.49 - Ponds (non-priority habitat)

Hedgerow

17.88 - Native Hedgerow (Low Distinctiveness)

Site description

Coldharbour Farm is an 89.4 hectare site positioned midway between the towns of Ashford and Maidstone. The site is unique as the owners are looking to utilise BNG farm-wide as part of their long established sustainability initiative, and as a means to further increase biodiversity on a farm that already harbours a wide array of species including nightingales and great crested newts.

The site is not subject to any statutory nature conservation designations, and none are located within a 1km radius. There are 3 Ancient and Semi Natural Woodlands within 1km of the site, one of which is immediately adjacent to the northern corner of the site.

Current habitats on the site include modified grassland, other neutral grassland, mixed scrub, lowland deciduous woodland, and ponds (non-priority habitat). Additionally, the site contains 10.64 km of native hedgerows.

Mixed scrub, broadleaved woodland, ponds, and native hedgerows, will be created using a mixture of planting and natural regeneration. Large areas of mixed scrub have been proposed on site to provide suitable nesting habitat for nightingales; several of which have been recorded on the site in recent years. Kent is a nationwide hotspot for nightingales and is one of their last remaining strongholds, with over a quarter of the country’s breeding pairs thought to reside within the county. Given nightingale populations have declined by more than 90% in the last 50 years, Coldharbour Farm is working with the wider Upper Beult Farmer Cluster to help re-establish nightingale populations in the area. Additionally, the creation of ponds will benefit a multitude of species ranging from invertebrates to great crested newts, and wading birds such as lapwings.

Other habitats on site will be enhanced to better condition, with modified grassland being enhanced to other neutral grassland. The changes will lead to improved lowland flowering plant communities in uplifted grassland areas, and improved invertebrate diversity in scrub/grassland mosaics. Species such as water vole will benefit from habitat restoration along the stream on the north-eastern border of the farm.

Wider environmental benefits will include improved water quality, reduced flow rates across the catchment, and associated enhanced flood resilience.

Coldharbour Farm is offering a unique opportunity for BNG purchasers to revisit the site they have invested in, using their eco venue as a hub to educate and involve staff, customers, and potentially the local community. The ability to revisit the site annually to see how habitats are developing and evolving over time, makes the investment more tangible, giving all involved a genuine insight into the real benefit they have conferred.  

Habitat Transitions

Current habitats

Proposed habitats