Forty Hall: Ecology support to a Heritage Lottery Funded Park Restoration Project

Background

Forty Hall and Estate in the London Borough of Enfield, includes the Grade I-listed Forty Hall and its associated Grade II-registered landscape. This historic designed landscape contains the preserved remains of the former Tudor royal palace of Elsyng, and as well as an early example of a ‘ferme ornée’ landscape.

Enfield Council successfully applied to the HLF ‘Parks for People’ programme in 2011 for the restoration of the historic landscape.

Elements of the HLF project included: restoration of the formal pond/lake; work to reveal and re-create the adjacent amphitheatre earthwork; and restoration of the 18th century ‘Oak Grove’ and pleasure grounds.

Several components of the project required ecological input, including:Forty Hall and Estate

  • Restoration of the 18th century design of pond / lake, mound and approach drive in front of the Hall (including the de-silting of the pond and replacing edging)
  • Work to reveal the 18th century designs of Pleasure Gardens, restoring the stream and reforming the shape of the ephemeral pool
  • Restoration of a former gardener’s cottage for new use as a base for volunteers
  • Restoration of Turkey Brook Bridge and weir
  • Creation of improved public footpath links to Capel Manor, Myddelton House and Gardens and Tottenham Hotspur’s training ground
  • Reconfiguration of the existing public car park
  • Creation of a new woodland play area and path

Support for Stage 1 and Stage 2 HLF Applications

BSG Ecology supported LDA Design’s work from RIBA Stage C and Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Stage 1 onwards, from 2008. We provided basic ecology information from a site walkover and desk study to inform the production of a landscape restoration and management plan for the whole of the historic landscape. We went on to support the Stage 2 application. To inform the Stage 2 application and subsequent works we undertook white clawed crayfish, badger, and great crested newt surveys; and preliminary and aerial inspection surveys of trees for bats and bat activity surveys of buildings.

BSG Ecology was also involved with public consultation and liaison meetings with the Park’s Friends Group. Our ecologist was able to reassure members that wildlife would be appropriately safeguarded during the works and that the proposals offered long term benefits to species and habitats.

Support during Implementation

Following award of £1.38M for the capital works, BSG Ecology were retained through LDA Design by Enfield Council to provide input to the tender specifications for contractors. We were also retained as Ecological Agents to ensure that ecological mitigation and enhancement measures were implemented to a high standard.

We secured European protected species licences for great crested newt and roosting bats in advance of the works and appointment of a contractor, to avoid any delay to programme. We then worked closely with the contractor and their Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) to review method statements, provide advice and answer queries to ensure protected species compliance, and that habitat issues were dealt with sensitively throughout construction.

As Ecological Agent we provided:

  • Forty Hall PondReview of method statements for all species and habitats of conservation concern with potential to be impacted by the project. These included:
    • De-silting and replacing the edging of the pond, removal of non-native Schedule 9 terrapins to a local welfare facility, and retention of desirable fish including sturgeon through a two stage approach to de-silting. We also advised on Environment Agency (EA) licencing issues
    • Sensitive and compliant discharge of water from the lake (under EA licence) including monitoring to ensure no adverse effects on receiving watercourse
    • Pre-construction checks for nesting kingfisher close to work on Turkey Brook weir
    • Pre-works survey for roosting bats in trees
  • Review of contractor records and undertaking site checks to ensure that works were being implemented in accordance with agreed method statements
  • Audit of features created and installed for ecological mitigation and enhancement including recommendations for adjustment as necessary. For example, 24 bat boxes were installed to our specification on retained trees to ensure continued opportunities for roosting bats and provide improved opportunities (no confirmed roosts were lost). One of the bat boxes came into use just a few months after being installed.
  • Ongoing high-level technical support to the ECoW.

We also continued to provide active technical specialist support on Site throughout the project, including:

  • Implementation of the bat licence for restoration works to gardeners’ cottage
  • Implementation of the great crested newt licence for the restoration of the mound
  • Implementation of an unlicensed precautionary method of works to enable restoration of other significant landscaped areas without risk to great crested newts
  • Close working with archaeologists to avoid impacts on trees with bat potential and great crested newt
  • Pre-works survey for bats, including aerial inspections of mature trees
  • Continued reassurance to members of the public that habitats and species were being safeguarded as planned

During construction we also liaised with the HLF-funded Conservation and Learning Officer to ensure that he was kept informed (which assisted with public liaison) and enabling easy discussion of any changes to grounds management required in the medium and long term (including targeting of volunteer activities and management of habitat for great crested newts). Details of the location of the new bat boxes and enhancement measures implemented for great crested newt were passed to the Conservation and Learning Officer.

Outcome

The restoration of Forty Hall and Estate has now been completed and a new habitat management plan is in place. This provides for the continued maintenance of key biodiversity features enhanced during the HLF project.  The HLF project has given the park new life and focus and our input avoided delays that might otherwise have arisen because of the ecological sensitivity of the site, and minimised costs whilst ensuring species and habitats were appropriately considered at all stages of the project. The ecological benefits secured through the project are now embedded in the day to day management of the park and conditions for biodiversity will continue to improve in years to come.

Ecology support to a Heritage Lottery Funded Park Restoration Project – Project Profile

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