Local Plan 2036 – Dunstan Park

Supplementary comment on Dunstan Park, Headington

26 August 2017

Dunstan Park, Headington
Dunstan Park, Headington

Dunstan Park is shown in the Preferred Options Section 9 ‘Sites’ (ref. no. 203) as ‘Potentially suitable for development’ – ‘Housing’. We think this site should not be considered for development because of its value as a site with significant and unusual biodiversity. Ecological Consultant Dr Judith Webb has written:

The centre of the site has a peaty area of old spring-fed mini alkaline fen supplied by a tufa depositing spring from the Headington Limestone aquifer. This will have important invertebrates breeding in it, but no proper surveys have so far been carried out. The southern yellow splinter cranefly Lipsothrix nervosa (a small yellow cranefly that breeds in tufa coated rotting twigs in the spring) is a UKBAP priority/section 41 species. Other invertebrates on site have not yet been surveyed and recorded.

Dunstan Park, Headington. Bridge over spring-fed stream
Dunstan Park, Headington. Bridge over spring-fed stream

The wetland and stream corridor have become heavily overgrown by scrub, trees and tall herb vegetation with a lot of giant horsetail. This could all be subject to habitat remediation/restoration to open short calcareous small wetland by taking some trees and scrub out and returning it to short fen by cutting and raking. This is what now should happen. The stream could have little log dams all the way along length to hold back spring water, re-wet the adjacent peaty areas and completely stop surface run-off from the site. This will assist in flood prevention in housing areas downslope from the park.

Dunstan Park, Headington. The course of the stream.
Dunstan Park, Headington. The course of the stream.

It is therefore not a good site for housing but an excellent site for biodiversity enhancement. The catchment area of the tufa spring is the green field above it and green back gardens of houses on Dunstan Rd. There should be no development here either, in order to preserve spring flow and chemistry in Dunstan Park.

We support Dr Webb’s assessment of this site which is of course also a public park used by local residents for quiet recreation, dog walking etc. We suggest it should be redesignated as a ‘Rejected Site’ in the ‘Green Infrastructure’ category.

Dunstan Park, Headington
Dunstan Park, Headington