The Thames Basin Heaths SPA covers an area of 8,275 ha across Hampshire, (the former county of) Berkshire and Surrey. It is part of a complex of heathlands in Southern England that support important populations of breeding birds, including the Dartford Warbler, Nightjar and Woodlark. More general information on SPAs is available from Natural England.

Only a small part of the SPA (about 80 ha) lies within Waverley, north of Farnham. There is, however, a “Zone of Influence” around the SPA within which measures are required to avoid adverse impacts on its conservation interests. This ‘buffer zone’ extends from 400 metres to 5 km from the perimeter of the SPA and covers most of the built-up area of Farnham.  View a map showing the areas covered by 5km buffer zone.

The SPA Avoidance Strategy

The Thames Basin Heaths Avoidance Strategy was adopted in December 2009 and updated in May 2013. It sets out the Council’s approach in seeking to avoid the effect of a net increase in population from new housing developments within 5km of the SPA, and how it proposes to discharge its legal obligations under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

The Strategy provides guidance to developers on the level of avoidance measures that the Council expects to see incorporated within planning applications. In this instance, “avoidance measures” means providing or contributing towards Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG), and contributing towards a programme of strategic access management and monitoring (SAMM) of the SPA.

Download all the Thames Basin Heaths SPA Avoidance Strategy Associated Documents.

Planning applications in the Farnham area within the 5km buffer zone  

In accordance with the Avoidance Strategy, where applicants cannot provide their own SANG (on- or off-site), they will be required to pay a tariff to contribute towards the enhancement of existing SANGs, where such sites have been identified by the local authority. Waverley's only current SANG resource is at Farnham Park.

The SANG capacity at Farnham Park is a finite resource in terms of the numbers of new dwellings it can support. The remaining (unallocated) capacity is monitored continually and the latest position is reported to every meeting of the Western Planning Committee.

In the event of there being insufficient capacity to support proposals for residential development, and unless applicants can provide or secure alternative SANG in accordance with the Avoidance Strategy, permission will be refused.

Financial contributions to the enhancement of the Farnham Park SANG will be secured through an appropriate Section 106 Unilateral Undertaking. This must be completed before the Council can grant planning permission.

Note: Within 400m of the perimeter of the SPA, the impact of additional residential development is deemed to be such that it is not possible to conclude no adverse effect on the SPA. There is, therefore, a presumption against development within this zone.

How much is the SANG tariff?

Use our calculator for assessing the required contribution for avoidance of the impact of development on the SPA.

This page contains

  • the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) Calculator,
  • Guidance for completing the Unilateral Undertaking
  • Unilateral Undertaking
  • Checklist for applicants
  • General Questions and Guidance

Contact Information

Planning Policy
Tel: 01483 523291


Page owner: Jennie Falconer. Last updated: 11/11/2015 14:39