LCT5 River Valley Floor  

LCA5G River Dever Valley Floor

LCA MapGeneral Description

The River Dever Valley Floor is a relatively narrow valley with a small-scale landscape pattern, with steeply sloping sides of the adjacent Open Arable LCA10D and LCA10E, creating a confined valley floor with a strong sense of enclosure and intimacy. The River Dever meanders over the valley floor where drainage ditches and pools are features on either side. The valley floor is well wooded with a limited area of small-scale pasture.

A relatively unspoilt landscape, with few human influences, except for the intrusion of the A34 corridor to the north.

Location

River Dever Valley Floor follows the River Dever from the eastern boundary of the Borough at Lower Bullington, to where it joins the River Test at Bransbury.

Local Physical Influences

Geology and soils: Alluvium and Valley Gravels.

Landform: A small shallow valley flanked by the broad slopes of the chalk downlands.

Drainage: Meandering small watercourse upstream from Bransbury.

Local Biodiversity and Vegetation Pattern

The dominant pattern in this area is permanent pasture with patches of woodland. There is a diverse flora and fauna particularly in those habitats associated with seasonal or permanent waterlogging. Many of the wet meadows are typical traditional grazed hay meadows that are becoming increasingly rare due to agricultural pressures. They are dominated by fine-leaved grasses such as Red Fescue, Crested Dogs-tail and Velvet Bent, with a variety of flowering plants including White Clover, Red Clover, Birds-foot Trefoil, Knapweed, Bulbous Buttercup, Yarrow, Yellow Rattle, Selfheal and Oxeye Daisy, and can include frequent orchids such as Bee Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid, Pyramidal Orchid, Southern Marsh Orchid, and Early Purple Orchid. Wetter areas include Yellow Flag, Water avens, King cup, and Milkmaids. Other notable habitats include areas of wet carr woodland, which with hedgerows, link to patches of ancient and semi-natural woodland and provide an important resource.

Local Historical Influences

The valley floor of the River Dever contains extensive areas of valley floor woodland and evidence for small areas of surviving bedwork water meadow systems (Type 4) along the length of the river. Flanking the valley floor and within the confines of this character area the valley sides are occupied by expanses of generally 19th century parliamentary field systems.

A now dismantled railway line once extended across the valley floor immediately to the west of Bullington and the earthen bank which carried the line across the valley floor survives within an area of woodland. Just to the east of this crossing point the A34 also spans the river valley.

Settlement Pattern

River Dever Valley Floor contains a single, dispersed settlement (Bullington) which spans the river and retains an early historic focus around the church and Church Farm in Lower Bullington and at Bullington Manor just across the river from the church. Other settlements appear to be very dispersed and relate to later post-medieval development of the valley floor.

Very few farms occupy the valley floor of this character area and are instead generally located upon the first river terrace.

The road network is confined to the valley sides, except where it crosses the River at four points. However these roads are well hedged which reduces their impact on the river valley.

Local Settlements and Features of Built Form

Bransbury: Chalk River Valley Settlement Type
Upper Bullington: Chalk River Valley Settlement Type

Traditional building style includes brick or brick and flint walls with clay tile and slate roofs.

Community Perceptions

Few comments were made for this area but loss of tranquillity in the east of the area was raised as an issue.Remoteness and Tranquillity

An intimate and enclosed landscape, although the A34 and the minor road which runs along the southern edge of the area, affect the levels of tranquillity.

Key Characteristics

Small scale valley floor dominated by pasture creating a strong sense of intimacy and enclosure, contrasting with the open arable valley sides
Mosaic of carr woodland and pasture with dense hedgerow structure
Valley floor woodland with only minimal surviving evidence of water meadow activity
Little settlement except at Barton Stacey on the valley side. Prominence of new development at Barton Stacey
Intrusion from the A34.

Local Natural and Cultural Landscape Issues

Visual and acoustic impact of A34
Pollution of the river and its tributaries through fertiliser run off and aqua culture ventures (fish farms, water cress beds).

Designations

Nature Conservation

SSSI

River Test (<10% of SSSI) - Running water, marginal vegetation and adjacent habitats including unimproved grassland and broadleaved woodland

Volume 2: LCA5G Strategies and Guidelines

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