GRASS in some parts of Basingstoke is being left uncut - but there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for it.

The council is trying to improve habitats for wildlife by managing road verges and open spaces differently.

The Hatch Warren and Beggarwood Biodiversity Improvement Zone (BIZ) is a pilot project that the council is undertaking to improve biodiversity along verges and open spaces.

Here is all you need to know.

Why is grass being left uncut?

Basingstoke Gazette:

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council are responsible for mowing over 6 million metres² - equivalent to cutting over 1,000 football pitches.

This spring, rain and spells of warm weather have created perfect grass growing weather meaning that in many areas the grass is longer than usual.

The council website states that the first grass cut is expected to be completed by the end of this week.

The first cut of the season takes longer than subsequent cuts due to the length of the grass following the winter months.

Once the first cut has taken place and the growth rate slows. But in some areas the grass will be kept long.

Long grass and colourful wildflowers provide nectar for bees and increase insect life, which results in food for larger insects and birds, which in turn provides food for even larger birds and mammals.

So to improve biodiversity in the borough, the council are keeping some grassy verges long, to help wildlife.

Which grassy verges are not being cut?

  • Verges along Beggarwood Lane.
  • Verges along Woodbury Road from the roundabout with Cliddesden Lane to the roundabout with Hatch Warren Lane.
  • Basingstoke Gazette: Image: Basingstoke and Dean Borough CouncilImage: Basingstoke and Dean Borough Council
  • Part of open space to north of Danebury Road/Inglewood Drive.
  • Part of open space to the east of Constantine Way.
  • Central ‘X’ shaped open space within the Beggarwood estate.
  • Part of Open Space east of Woodgarston Drive (behind Hatch Warren Community Centre)
  • Area to the south of Gershwin Road around Hatch Warren School.

Basingstoke Gazette: Image: Basingstoke and Deane Borough CouncilImage: Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

  • Verges along north side of Gershwin Road, opposite Hatch Warren schools
  • Tollhouse Meadow, Chineham
  • Crabtree Plantation
  • Down Grange Meadow
  • Old Down
  • The Knowlings
  • Bere Hill
  • Wildlife Area, Eastrop Park
  • The Lip, War Memorial Park
  • The Mill Field
  • Garrett Close, Kingsclere

Is the project working?

Basingstoke Gazette: Images of Basingstoke during the project, Image: Basingstoke and Deane Borough CouncilImages of Basingstoke during the project, Image: Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

During 2020, the areas within the BIZ project were allowed to grow with no cutting and set seed from April onwards.

A total of 153 species of herbaceous plant and grasses were found , the council has said this is “an excellent variety for a town location”.

Species included favourites such as creeping buttercups in the spring and dandelions and daisies. Forget-me-not and Speedwell were also common as were clovers and the white flowers of wild carrot and yarrow.

The grassland structure reportedly became more varied with species of butterflies, bees, grasshoppers and spiders all benefiting from increased food sources and places to live.