|LCT2 Pasture and Woodland Associated with Heathland||
LCA2A Embley Wood and Heathland
A mixture of areas of open landscape including a golf course which contrast with areas of an enclosed landscape of mature woodlands, small hedged fields, and areas of scrub and heathland. Embley Park forms a strong influence within this landscape with its associated designed features including lakes, woodlands, lodges and once open areas of parkland. Additionally the smaller 19th century park of Awbridge Danes to the north of this character area has a similar influence, however on a smaller scale.
Embley Wood and Heathland has close links with West Wellow Heaths to the west side of Canada and includes West Wellow, Awbridge Danes, Embley Park and Embley Wood. The character area extends to the Borough boundary and continues into the West Wellow Heaths and Commons of New Forest District.
Local Physical Influences
Geology: The acidic soils of the Branksome Sand group (formerly the Bracklesham Group) have a strong influence on the vegetation type forming pockets of heathland and areas of poor quality soils.
Landform: A prominent ridgeline on the eastern boundary of Embley Park forms the eastern edge of the area. The landscape falls gently to the River Blackwater.
Drainage: The area falls within the River Blackwater catchment area and includes part of the River Blackwater and numerous small streams and ponds.
Local Biodiversity and Vegetation Pattern
Plaitford Common SSSI on the edge of the New Forest is composed of broadleaved woodland and unimproved grassland. Embley Wood SINC is broadleaved woodland with patches of dry heath and wet heath, some forestry scrub and an area of bog.
Native Broadleaved woodlands are also found at Withybed Copse, Hall Copse, Kentford Lake Wood, Spouts Copse, Shootash Copse and Baldwins Copse. Characteristic woodland species include: oak, birch, bluebell, orchids, moschatel, sanicle, pignut, wood anemone, primrose, wood spurge, butchers broom.
Unimproved neutral grassland is found at Daneswood Meadow, Hilltop Meadows Eastlands Meadow.Semi-improved neutral grassland occurs at All Saints, Awbridge Characteristic species of these grasslands include: violets, eyebright, hawksbeard, cranesbill, orchids.
Local Historical Influences
Parliamentary field enclosure upon portions of the heathland associated with the northern boundaries of the New Forest and generally close to Heath Associated type settlements. Pre-1810 assarted woodland and replanted assarted pre-1810 woodland is the dominant form of woodland in this character area and is possibly associated with the nearby presence of the New Forest. A single golf course and two historic parks (Embley Park and Dunwood Manor) are present within this character area.
Settlements within this area are concentrated towards the south with Canada, West Wellow sited along the edge of the New Forest Boundary. Other settlements are limited to the large houses of Embley Park and Awbridge, a few scattered farmsteads, for example Merry Hill Farm and isolated industrial estates. The scattered system of farmsteads corresponds with the largely assarted and woodland character of this area. This may well represent a historical response to the type of farming landscape during the earlier post-medieval period with a series of farmsteads scattered within small land holdings but located in relative proximity with each other.
Small roads criss-cross the landscape. The A36 in the south of the LCA has a sub-urbanising influence along the road corridor.
Heathland settlement types dominate this character area and these appear to be a largely a post-medieval/modern development focused upon the main roads running through the area. Where a historic core does exist it is as one or more farmsteads with the more modern settlements developing up around these farms in one or more directions with later development occurring in blocks rather than as gradual organic development over time. The roads are the principal driving factor behind the development of this more modern settlement.
The settlement pattern in this area during the later post-medieval period has been increasingly dominated by expansion from Southampton and its associated suburbs. These larger later post-medieval settlements are characterised by areas of planned housing with clearly defined boundaries edges and often a well-planned network of connecting roads. The settlement types found within this character area tend to be heathland associated settlement types.
Local Settlements and Features of Built Form
Awbridge (Danes): Clay River Valley Settlement Type
Blackhill: Common Edge Settlement Type
Canada: Common Edge Settlement Type
Plaitford (Northern portion): Common Edge Settlement Type
West Wellow: Heath Associated Settlement Type
Plaitford (Southern portion): Common Edge Settlement Type
Red brick cottages with slate roofs are characteristic of the traditional linear settlements with modern housing of brick construction with concrete tiled roofs.
The area is valued for its strength of rural character, despite its proximity to Southampton and the motorways, and for its close proximity to the New Forest. Important features identified include the area’s connection with Florence Nightingale, the locally distinctive small cottages and larger dwellings and the former presence of mills along the river. Residents were however concerned about the decline in some bird species such as thrushes and skylarks and the decline in pasturing of cattle. They felt there was a loss of hedgerows and hedge damage, often from over flailing, and evidence of soil erosion. New hedgelaying in Wellow was noted and valued.
Many did not identify the wooded areas as associated with heathland, but recognised that the remnant heathland was very different in character to the heathland of LCA1 and the New Forest .
Remoteness and Tranquillity
Within the existing areas of parkland away from the main roads, areas of tranquility can be found. The high degree of woodland cover provides the area with a sense of remoteness despite the proximity of Romsey and the A36.
Prominent wooded ridgeline
An enclosed and settled varied landscape of farmland and woodland
Extensive areas of woodland, particularly in association with parkland
Views are short, mostly to the next field boundary or woodland edge except form high ground adjacent to open areas where views to the New Forest open up
Away from the A36, an area valued for its quiet rural character in contrast to Southampton
Shaded leafly lanes
Embley Park and Dunwood Manor and their parkland features, i.e. lodges, designed landscapes
Parliamentary field pattern on former heathland
Extensive pre-1810 assarted and acid broadleaved woodland
River Blackwater and local small streams and man made lakes
Acid to neutral unimproved grassland, with some remnants of heathland
Built development along and behind the A36 frontage.
Local Natural and Cultural Landscape Issues
Erosion of parkland features within Embley Park
Poor management of hedgerows
Loss of wood pastures
Loss of traditional farm buildings to non farming uses, as seen adjacent to Embley Manor
Declining use of traditional ‘back up’ commoning land
Continuing expansion of dormitory developments focused upon small settlements to serve Southampton and elsewhere
Fragile archaeological heritage present upon the exposed (and traditionally marginalized) heathland sensitive to further settlement development
Potential inclusion of a large part of the area within the New Forest National Park and increase in demand for recreational facilities.
New Forest Heritage Area: Part of the LCA south of the River Blackwater.
Dunwood Manor: Identified on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens but not provided with a listing
Embley Park: Listed as Grade II on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
17 SINCs including ancient semi-natural woodlands, agriculturally unimproved grasslands, wet flushes, heathland remnants, scrub and sites which support an outstanding assemblage of species