COUNCILLORS have taken a bid to protect Old Down and branded the space as a "wild oasis" that is valued by residents.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has agreed to take all necessary steps to declare Old Down as a local nature reserve

As previously reported, Basingstoke MP Maria Miller launched a campaign calling on the borough council to protect Old Down and designate it as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR).

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The MP, with support from a group of residents, has been fighting to protect the 16 hectares of open chalk grassland which runs between Beggarwood and Kempshott to save it from being built on.

During a full council meeting last week Cllr Samir Kotecha asked the council to request that cabinet takes all necessary steps to declare Old Down as a Local Nature Reserve.

The motion was unanimously approved by all councillors in attendance.

Introducing the motion, he said: “Old down is in Kempshott in Basingstoke and it is an integral part of the quality of life to the local community and it needs to be protected from having any construction proposed for the site.

“The council should take all steps to designate Old Down as a natural reserve, which enhances the ecological wildlife system.

“Think of the summer days sitting under a tree listening to the birds, hearing dogs park, people talking to each other, children eating ice cream having fun in the fresh air in such a beautiful open space as Old Down.”

He said the space was extremely important in the Covid lockdown, helping to keep people physically and mentally fit.

He added: “Our generation must protect green spaces like these for the next coming generations.”

The motion was warmly received with several councillors referring to the green space as an “oasis”.

Cllr Hannah Golding described the area as a special “wild oasis” that is used by residents who “value the space”.

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Some concerns were made about what action will be taken to ensure the land is protected.

Cllr Alex Lee added: "As a runner I use that space pretty frequently and it has some of the only good trials around the area that you can run in these days.

"My only concern is that the motion seems a little bit toothless, at the last meeting it was agreed that in the next 12 months the council would look at making this a nature reserve."

He said he does not want to see the same thing happen again.

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