HOPES for a new nature reserve on the outskirts of a city could soon come into bloom.
Brighton and Hove City Council is now considering whether to make the area a nature reserve, which could result in restricted public access.
Councilor Jamie Lloyd, deputy chairman of the environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “Waterhall is a fantastic site of unique biodiversity, and we are delighted to be working with so many brilliant experts to enhance the natural habitat and preserve the rich chalk grassland for generations to come.”
Dogs can currently run free at Waterhall near Westdene
Public access to Waterhall was restricted when the golf course was functional, however since its closure, many have made use of the space, particularly large numbers of dog walkers.
Now, the council is deciding whether environmental damage caused by increased use will ruin the project.
There are particular concerns around large numbers of dogs running off their leads.
The site of Waterhall’s disused golf club
The council says evidence has already shown that wildlife species, including dormice and adders, are decreasing following the increased use of the site by dogs off lead.
Councilors will consider a report on Waterhall becoming a nature reserve at the environment, transport and sustainability committee later today.
Speaking to the Argus, a furious dog walker, Steve Nobbs, previously said the council is trying to ban dogs entirely.
“There hasn’t been a lot of transparency. In effect, they’re trying to ban the dogs, because we’ll have to keep them on a lead,” said Steve.
“Restricting that you have to have your dog on a lead? Well, that’s not really a dog walk, let’s be honest.
“All we’re saying is, we want some transparency – what’s happening and when.”
Dedicating the site as Open Access Land would allow public access to the site, while giving the council some control of its use by dog walkers, by requiring dogs to be kept on a lead most of the time.
It is also recommended that councilors consider an option to include the area in the city’s dog control zone. This would allow a clearer message to be given on dog control as dogs could be required to be kept on leads at all times.
Keeping dogs on short leads while on the site, will help protect the landscape, wildlife and grazing livestock, the council states.
There are several nearby areas where dogs can be walked off leads including Three Cornered Copse, Coney Hill Woodland and Waterhall and Braypool Recreation Grounds.
If the order is introduced, The Waterhall Ranger and Education Ranger will work with the public to explain the reasoning behind the dog controls and the importance of biodiversity in our landscape.