Over the last few years BSG Ecology has been working with Andrew Cameron under a partnership called Crex, to help develop and implement the biodiversity element of the John Lewis Partnership Responsible Development Framework. One of the key commitments to biodiversity within the Framework is to achieve no net loss of biodiversity from the Partnership Estate by 2020. One of the first new stores where this biodiversity commitment is being applied is at Chipping Sodbury, in Gloucestershire.
BSG undertook an initial review of the baseline ecological work undertaken by others for the original planning application and proposed a range of measures that could be undertaken to further minimise biodiversity impacts – both on site and along the adjacent River Frome wildlife corridor. Andrew Cameron made important contacts with local conservation groups and other interested parties and helped identify biodiversity enhancements that could be delivered off site. Working with the property services team of Waitrose, the local authority, local conservation groups and the landscape architects, we achieved a range of changes to the original site design and landscape planting, along with improvements to the local area. There was a focus on native species and planting structure. Bat and bird boxes were erected, targeted at declining species such as house sparrow; an otter holt was constructed to support the return of otter to this section of the River Frome; and bee hives were also installed. Off-site agreement was reached with local conservation groups and the local authority, to enhance wildlife habitats in local green spaces.
This work was Highly Commended at the recent Waitrose Awards 2014 and the judges commented, “Biodiversity loss is an important issue and through their involvement [Crex] in this project no net loss of biodiversity was achieved. A range of enhancements were undertaken to achieve this aim including a planting scheme for native plants in the area, non-native species that could be of use and removal of invasive species. The project also included the building of bird and bat boxes in the area to encourage biodiversity. Also a bee apiary was built close to the store and installations to encourage biodiversity along the nearby river. In the local park, wooded areas with meadows were created to benefit biodiversity on a larger scale”.
Dr Peter Shepherd of BSG Ecology said, “We are delighted to have worked with the John Lewis Partnership to help them, as major representatives of the corporate sector, make significant contributions to biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. All businesses, and in particular our largest, most successful ones, can engage positively with biodiversity conservation. They have a huge capacity to influence customers and demonstrate through excellent practice how with careful planning, clear objectives and early engagement development can be environmentally responsible. The John Lewis Partnership is leading the way with its Responsible Development Framework and through the company’s desire to constantly improve how they go about their business. We look forward to helping to further implement their commitment to no net loss of biodiversity which very much follows the interests of founder John Spedan Lewis who was a keen naturalist and entomologist ”
Andrew Cameron commented, “We were delighted to receive recognition for our work with the John Lewis Partnership from an independent panel of judges. Addressing biodiversity impacts and delivering enhancements for wildlife as part of new development does not need to be complicated or expensive, but it does require commitment from the developer, which we have had in great measure from the John Lewis Partnership and their contractor. It also requires those advising on such issues to be inventive and willing to explore new ways of addressing biodiversity impacts, and to be able to demonstrate how such measures benefit the business. Crex combines expert and experienced ecologists with a good understanding of business which we have been able to apply in a very cost-effective manner to the new Waitrose store at Chipping Sodbury and we look forward to our next challenge”.
Whilst Chipping Sodbury was the first store where we applied the commitments of the Responsible Development Framework, we have also been working on the new Malmesbury Store where the John Lewis Partnership has taken enhancement a step further with the design and installation of a new swift tower that was not required by the original planning consent. The tower has been developed by Waitrose in collaboration with Swift Conservation. This store was also the first where Mark Avery (Standing up for Nature) was engaged to challenge the John Lewis Partnership to achieve more for biodiversity, including delivery on ‘best laid plans’. The store includes areas of tussock grassland, wildflower grassland and scrub among a range of other habitat features. It was opened on 7th August 2014 and we look forward to watching the habitats develop.
If you would like to know more about how BSG Ecology is working with businesses to help them achieve their environmental goals, please contact Dr Peter Shepherd in our Oxford office – 01865 883833.