Agenda item

Review of the Work of the Greenspaces Team

To review the work of the Greenspaces Team in regard to the Countryside spaces in the Borough, and delivery of the Greenspaces work programme.

For clarity, this excludes the Council’s parks, gardens and play areas, work on highways verges and grassed areas, the spaces managed by the Banstead Commons Conservators and matters to do with Planning (Core Strategy and Development Management Plan). The aim of the review is to see how improvements can be made to services.

An appendix of background papers on Countryside spaces in the borough has been included for your information.


The Chair welcomed Councillor Moses, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainability.

A presentation had been provided on the work of the Greenspaces Team in the agenda pack, which can be found here:

Agenda for Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday, 22nd February, 2024, 7.30 pm | Reigate and Banstead Borough Council (

Several advance questions had been submitted regarding the work of the Greenspaces team presentation. The advance questions and responses can be viewed here:

Document Advance Questions and Answers OS 22 february 2024 | Reigate and Banstead Borough Council (

The Portfolio Holder invited Members to ask questions on her presentation. In response, the following clarifications were provided:

Managing Greenspaces

The Head of Neighbourhood Operations confirmed that the Council had a good relationship with Natural England, and worked closely with them, particularly on Reigate Heath. She acknowledged that several funding schemes were available, and that the intention was to apply for any relevant funding schemes in the future.


It was confirmed that there were some constraints to accessibility, due to the need to apply for permission from the Secretary of State to carry out works on common land. Pathways had been installed, but the team would welcome conversations regarding specific areas that may benefit from being made more accessible.

Ash Dieback

It was confirmed that an inspection programme of one and three years for all trees was in place. More urgent inspections were carried out on trees of concern, and trees that may pose a danger to the public. One-year inspections were carried out on trees in public high traffic areas, such as on footpaths and near schools. Three-year inspections were carried out on trees within woodland areas. Trees were categorised for condition, with categorisation continually monitored. A Member suggested that the process could be communicated to residents for better understanding.

It was confirmed that there was an industry suggestion that allowing trees to repopulate would work well, and the Council was considering using this method. The Tree Officer was very experienced and would monitor this closely.

Communication to Greenspaces Team

It was confirmed that requests from residents and response times for these issues was not recorded specifically but that data trails were recorded. A Member suggested that a metric on response times and customer service be explored in the upcoming Greenspaces Strategy.

Trim Trails

It was confirmed that there was an intention to install further trim trails.

Management Plans

It was confirmed that the variations in the content of management plans was due to some management plans being set out by Natural England, and the varying characteristics of sites.

A request was made by a visiting member for the way in which management plans are adopted to mirror that which we expect Banstead Commons to follow, namely being shared with 'warm contacts' and then the public at the draft stage for consultation. The Officer agreed to discuss this with the Portfolio Holder and respond to this request.

Wildlife Surveys

It was confirmed that although some of the wildlife surveys had been carried out some time ago, management plans included wildlife surveys and recommendations on dealing with habitats, which would show the changes in land and maintenance carried out and would inform actions moving forward. In the upcoming Greenspaces Strategy baseline surveys and future maintenance would be identified.

Mere Pond

It was confirmed that the habitat survey for Mere Pond was carried out by the Wildlife Trust in 2018 and was due to be updated in 2024. It was confirmed that the Council’s engineer had been engaging with the community and the Head of Neighbourhood Operations would check that the plans to carry out a new survey and the analysis from the survey were shared with the community group.

Grass cutting

A Committee Member spoke about the advantages of tailoring grass cutting schedules to allow the growth of herbs which encouraged biodiversity. The Chair asked the Member to contact the Head of Neighbourhood Operations and Countryside Officer in writing after the meeting to discuss this matter further. Although rules were put in place by Natural England on grass cutting in some areas, the Council would consider suggestions put forward by the Member and would investigate the equipment necessary for grass collection. The Managing Director added that Members would have the opportunity to contribute to the upcoming Greenspaces Strategy. The Leader also added that issues could be brought to the steering groups for land areas.

It was agreed that a good way forward would be to have a review of the approach to mowing/management of the different sites that are mown such as verge/ park/countryside with expert advice and the results in the public domain so that residents can see the balance of approaches across the different types of grass/countryside area.

A Member commented that there was a varied approach to grass cutting in operation to suit the different purposes of each greenspace, with grazing carried out well, and congratulated the Greenspaces Team.


A Member reported that hawthorn hedges provided a good source of food for wildlife and should not be cut back. He asked whether rotational management of the countryside areas could be introduced to allow flowering and fruiting. He also suggested planting corridors between bio-rich and bio-poor areas. These suggestions could be considered during the consultation on the upcoming Greenspaces Strategy.


It was confirmed that the Greenspaces Team were trained to check areas for hedgehogs before commencing mowing and strimming. The Greenspaces officer assured Members that he will ensure that operatives adhere to this practice before mowing to protect the hedgehog population.

Banstead Commons Conservators

It was confirmed that the Banstead Commons Conservators would be consulted with as part of the upcoming Greenspaces Strategy.

BMX track at Burgh Heath

In response to a request for an update on the BMX track at Burgh Heath which had been closed, the Head of Neighbourhood Operations agreed to provide a written response.

Balance of resource

It was confirmed that there was a wide breadth of resource within the Greenspaces team which could be redeployed to different areas when necessary. The Council was very grateful to volunteer groups for the wealth of good work they carried out and noted that guidance and support for this work was provided by officers from the Greenspaces team.

The Chair encouraged Committee Members with expertise in this area to liaise with officers on the upcoming Greenspaces Strategy.

The Chair thanked the Portfolio Holder and the Greenspaces team for their presentation and thanked the Greenspaces Team for their work.

RESOLVED that Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted the review of the work of the Greenspaces Team.

Supporting documents: