Proposal for extensive grazing of Charlton Kings Common

Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC) has been invited by Natural England, to apply for Higher Level Stewardship for Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common to try to secure the long term sustainable management of this important area of common land of national importance.

The site contains three registered Commons (CL171, 172 and 173) which are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Local Nature Reserve.  As owners of the site, we are keen to explore this opportunity and welcome your comments on the proposal to extensively graze the common to deliver the agreement, which will require containment of the grazing animals.  The long term aim is to restore the historic boundary wall that surrounds the common, but in the short term will require 2.5km of fencing and gating of rights of way/desire lines.  Under the Commons Act 2006 part of the fencing requires Planning Inspectorate consent to enable us to fence within common land.

We have been working with the Friends of Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common (FOLK), and receiving advice and assistance from the Leckhampton Hill Consultative Group (LHCG) - members including Natural England, English Heritage, Gloucestershire County Council archaeological service, Cotswold Conservation Board/National Trail team and the Gloucestershire Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.  We seek to balance what is best for the common; the recreational use of riders, walkers and cyclists whilst maintaining and improving the biodiversity, historic environment and landscape of the area, which supports a number of 'red and amber listed' species.

The site is one of the top twenty sites of unimproved limestone grassland in the whole of the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty.  CBC replaced 1,300m of the historic dry stone boundary wall with grants and European funding covering 80 per cent of the cost.  This forms the southern boundary of the common, along the line of the Cotswold Way.

The northern boundary is adjoined by a series of residential properties and small holdings along a restricted by-way (ZCK 56) - Daisybank Road (GL53 9QQ) (OS ref - 395303/218897), where a fence line has been installed to provide suitable access to residents the fence is erected on the common (southern) side of the track so that it does not obstruct vehicular access to properties or require the installation of cattle grids.  The second stretch is on the top of the hill where the two commons meet on the Cotswold Way (OS re - 395228/218497).  Due to the topography and to ensure the integrity of horse access suitable gates have been installed, just within the common boundary.

Much endeavour and consideration has been made already towards this specification.  If you would like further detail or have comments of support to make please email wayne.sedgwick@www.cheltenham.gov.uk or telephone Cheltenham Borough Council's Green Space Development