Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBH SPA) (policy documents and guidance)

The Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBH SPA) was designated as an Special Protection Area (SPA) on 9 March 2005. The SPA comprises an area of lowland heath and woodland and is a habitat protected under UK law supporting a characteristic landscape and distinctive flora and fauna under threat and in decline.

The SPA extends over 11 local planning authorities in Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire and comprises a network of 13 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) of predominantly lowland heathland and woodland. The TBH SPA is designated because of the presence of breeding populations of three bird species:

  • Dartford Warblers;
  • Woodlarks; and
  • Nightjars.

These birds nest on or near the ground and as a result they are very susceptible to predation of adults, chicks and eggs (particularly by cats, rats and crows) and to disturbance from informal recreational use, especially walking cycling and dog walking. It is considered the growth in the population directly brought about by additional housing development has an impact on these types of activities.

From 1 April 2007, a contribution has been required from developers who wish to build additional properties within the zone of influence of TBH SPA (the zone of influence is a 5km straight line distance from the SPA). This money goes towards mitigation of recreational impacts from new residents on the SPA in the form of Suitable Accessible Natural Greenspace (SANG) and Strategic Access Management & Monitoring (SAMM).

From the 15th April 2021 the Council will be changing from a dwelling based contribution to SANG & SAMM to an occupancy based contribution. This is to bring Runnymede in line with other authority areas affected by the SPA.

The cost of SANG will be £903.5 per occupant and SAMM £360 per occupant. Further detail can be found in the Council's Thames Basin Heaths SPA SPD at and on the Planning obligations webpage

More information about the Borough's SANGS can be found at the following webpage:  Natural Environment (policy documents and guidance)

To confirm whether or not the development in question falls within the TBH SPA and is liable for this charge, please use Maps.

Applications for planning permission for residential development within the SPA zone of influence should be submitted in the normal way.

A template unilateral obligation which should be completed and signed by the developer and then submitted with any planning application for additional residential units in this area can also be found on the Planning obligations webpage.

The Thames Basin Heaths Joint Strategic Partnership Board (JSPB) has been established to agree the long-term protection of the SPA. The Joint Strategic Partnership delivery framework can be found here:  Icon for pdf Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area Delivery Framework (February 2009) [601.58KB]

This delivery framework sets out the Thames Basin Heaths Joint Strategic Partnership Board's  recommendations on measures to enable the delivery of dwellings in the vicinity of the SPA - without having a significant effect on the SPA as a whole. It focuses on avoiding the impact of recreation and urbanisation on the SPA habitat and features of interest.