Marlhill Copse, an area of woodland owned by Southampton Airport, will re-open this Thursday (April 2, 2020).
The copse was cordoned off in October 2019, after a report by an expert arboriculturalist found some of the trees to be unsafe and presented a hazard to the public and nearby properties.
Much work has been undertaken on site to remove this risk, but one small area within the copse will remain closed whilst further work is carried out and should be fully opened later in the spring.
A Southampton Airport spokesperson said: “Whilst all movement in a public space is currently subject to restrictions vital to combat the spread of Covid-19, we promised we would keep members of the local community fully informed as our work progressed.
“In future months, once these vitally important restrictions are lifted and the public are able to fully return to the copse, we hope to provide people of all ages with a regenerated and beautiful space, interactive and educational for the whole community to enjoy.
“We are working with Southampton City Council and other regulatory and advisory bodies to develop our Woodland Management Plan. This will outline our full plan for the woodland over the next five to ten years and will be published during the summer.”
Further works are needed to be carried out next winter. This will require the temporary closure of some areas of the copse on a staggered basis in order that the copse remains open.
The airport project team has also formed a Marlhill Community Group to ensure that the improvements made to the copse are sympathetic to the environment, sensitive to the local ecology and incorporate ideas and feedback from those who live in and love the area.
The group includes representatives from Townhill Park Residents Association, Hampshire Gardens Trust, SO18 Big Local, local ward councillors, Bitterne Park School, an ecologist and woodland management expert. It held its inaugural meeting at the beginning of March, which included a guided tour of the site and discussed ideas for regeneration.
Throughout the summer, we will continue with a programme of further improvements including the installation of new signage carved out of wood from the copse, community events, and footpath regeneration which will include the installation of information boards detailing the history, flora and fauna that can be found within the natural woodland habitat.
All works on site are being completed by specialist arboricultural staff, working with personal protective equipment and following Covid-19 guidance issued by the Arboricultural Association which permits work to be completed to ensure public safety. The guidance can be found here:
Further details of the regeneration of Marlhill Copse will be released as the work continues.
If any member of the local community has any feedback, ideas or questions, they can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org