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Agricultural Land Use and Recreation

Chapter 18: Agricultural Land Use and Recreation of the PEIR considers the potential effects of the Project on agricultural land use and recreational resources, including areas of public open space, public rights of way and other linear recreational routes during its construction and operational phases. Specifically, the chapter assesses the potential effects on the following resources during the construction and operational stages of the Project:

A desk study has been undertaken in relation to soils, agricultural land classification and farm holdings within the study area.

In addition to the desk study information on agricultural land use and soils, the assessment has been informed by site visits and detailed agricultural land classification survey work in agricultural areas that would be potentially temporarily or permanently affected by the Project. A recreational survey was undertaken along National Cycle Route 21 which runs through the north eastern area of Riverside Garden Park adjacent to the Gatwick Stream, on three occasions between May and August 2019 to ascertain the nature of the use of this area of public open space.

The agricultural land affected by the Project comprises predominantly poorly drained clayey soils. These soils are limited in their agricultural quality by a wetness and workability limitation. According to the Agricultural Land Classification Guidelines they are graded entirely as lower quality Subgrade 3b or Grade 4 agricultural land, with no land being defined as the best and most versatile (Grades 1, 2 or 3a) land.

The agricultural land is characterised by a high proportion of grassland use in the vicinity of Gatwick Airport, with the land holdings around the airport used mainly for livestock based farming enterprises and for horse grazing.  A total of seven land holdings, including land owned by Gatwick Airport, could be permanently affected by the Project.

There is a network of public rights of way within the Project site boundary, including those public footpaths along which the Sussex Border Path runs (see Figure below). Other linear recreational routes include the Millennium Trail which largely follows the same route as the Sussex Border Path and finishes in Riverside Garden Park, and the long distance National Cycle Route 21. This cycle route runs south from Greenwich to Eastbourne and runs northwards between the A23 London Road and the railway line as a traffic free route to the east of the main airport campus, under the A23 and through Riverside Park in Horley. Riverside Garden Park in Horley is designated as urban open space of high value by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council and forms part of the Riverside Green Chain. It is located on the south western edge of Horley between areas of residential development to the north east and the A23 and Gatwick Airport to the south west. It is bounded to the north by the Gatwick Stream and includes areas of amenity grassland, woodland and a man-made lake. A recreational survey undertaken within Riverside Garden Park indicates that it is a well-used resource by local residents and workers, as well as travellers using Gatwick Airport.

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Existing Recreational Resources

A number of measures have been designed in to the Project to reduce the potential for impacts on agricultural land use and recreation. Mitigation measures include:

No effects on agricultural land use are anticipated to be significant during the construction or operational phases of the Project.

During the initial construction phase (2024-2029), there is the potential for disruption to access along the Sussex Border Path and three public footpaths as a result of the commencement of the highway improvement works. In addition, it is proposed that a number of public access improvements would be implemented to provide health and well-being benefits to the local community and the public generally, including the provision of new circular recreational route around the flood compensation area to the east of Museum Field, with a link to the existing alignment of the Sussex Border Path.

There is also the potential for the disruption to the existing public footpath that runs along the boundary of the Pentagon Field during the construction activities associated with the new surface car parking.  It is proposed that this route is maintained along its existing alignment outside the perimeter fencing on the construction site for the safety of pedestrians.

Taking all these factors into account, the temporary effect on public rights of way during construction is assessed to be of minor adverse significance, and the overall effect on recreational routes and facilities during operation is assessed to be of permanent minor   beneficial significance.

The improvement works associated with the proposed new grade separated junction to serve the North Terminal may encroach into the southern fringe of Riverside Garden Park. This would result in permanent loss of approximately 0.75 hectares of public open space within these areas (a moderate adverse effect) and would impact on a section of the Sussex Border Path to the south of the A23.

To mitigate for these impacts the following measures have been incorporated into the Project design.

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