Buckler’s Forest, Crowthorne

Project Details

Once the centre for ground-breaking research into road safety, Buckler’s Forest has been transformed into a unique recycled landscape, with our work looking at re-naturalising the remnants of modern history spread across the 250acre site. Set amongst swathes of forest, grasslands and heathlands, the project introduces a new residential community and embraces the fascinating fragments of human history found across the site. This includes the old vehicle test tracks, historic forest rides dating back to when the area was once part of the Royal Hunting Forest of Windsor, and even traces of much earlier Bronze Age activity on the site.

Buckler’s Forest sits immediately adjacent to the Thames Basin Heath SPA. As part of the development, 100 acres of SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace) has been created between the SPA and the residential development, protecting the fragile SPA biodiversity. The scheme delivers an interconnected network of trails and cycle routes through the forest, all opened up for free public access.

The restoration from test track to forest and heathland also allows wildlife to reclaim the site, creating a mosaic of semi-natural habitats. A new network of streams and ponds form an integral part of the extensive sustainable drainage system for the development. The SANG is complete and Phase 1 of the residential development is currently underway.

Design Details

  • Hill Start Hill – a man made hill for testing handbrakes and hill starts – is now a quiet picnic spot, nestled on the forest’s edge
  • The Banked Curve – a tight 70° apex bend, banked to allow high speed vehicles to take the corner at speeds up to 155mph – now includes a stepped amphitheatre to allow visitors to climb to the top and admire the view
  • The Skid Pan – previously a huge 6ha circle of tarmac used for testing brakes and roundabout layouts – has been restored to a natural landscape with a previously culverted watercourse exposed as part of the wider blue network through the site
  • Green electrical boxes – retained from the transport laboratory era – have been transformed to create mini ‘museum’ exhibitions, insect habitats and shelters within the forest
  • The forest fire watch tower remains as an icon on the site, looking out over the former skid pan and the forest beyond
Location:

Crowthorne, Berkshire

Client:

Legal and General Homes & Communities

Project Manager:

Allen Dadswell Construction Consultants

Architect:

Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design

Engineer:

Peter Brett Associates

Contractors:

Civil - Breheny Civil Engineering / Landscape - Gavin Jones

Ecologist:

Ecology Solutions