BSG Ecology has been working on proposals for the Great Haddon urban expansion on the southern edge of Peterborough for over seven years. We were delighted to learn that in March this year Peterborough City Council granted outline planning permission for this significant development.
The Great Haddon development is a 5,350 home extension to the city, along with a district centre with up to 9,200 square metres of retail space, new primary and secondary schools, community facilities and more than 132 hectares of open space. This is the culmination of many years of hard work by the consortium developer (a joint venture between O&H Properties, Barratt Strategic and Marlborough Developments) and the team of consultants supporting the consortium’s vision.
BSG Ecology was an integral part of the consultant team working closely with planning, urban design, engineering and landscape architects. Our focus was to address the site’s complex ecological issues, not least the close proximity of a large Special Area for Conservation (SAC) at Orton Pit. We provided services in ecological survey, environmental impact assessment, appropriate assessment, habitat design and expert witness representation.
Our team was led by Dr Peter Shepherd, and we worked closely with LDA Design, PBA, and planners David Lock Associates.
Dr Shepherd said “This project has been a long time in development and has presented challenging issues relating to sites of the highest conservation value and and the complex web of habitats and species of interest. A great deal of hard work and careful thought has been put into the design of mitigation measures which has involved our landscape architect, planning and engineering colleagues, and it is very pleasing to see this come to fruition. We look forward to the next challenge of implementing mitigation measures and getting stuck into some of the detailed design issues associated with creating complex mosaics of new habitats!”
Our team led detailed discussions with the city council ecology advisor, planning officers and Natural England, to develop a positive solution to potential impacts on the SAC and other features of ecological value in and around the site.
Orton Pit SAC is a former clay pit designated for its large population of great crested newts and its diversity of stoneworts and other aquatic plants. Potential impacts of nitrogen deposition on sensitive habitats and species, pollution of water bodies of exceptional quality, increased noise and visitor pressure, and predation by cats all had to be tackled. We approached this through careful design of buffer zones in new green infrastructure, as well as the development of an Access Management Plan. The plan includes details of natural wetland barriers to control access, guided footpaths and cycle routes, and increased wardening.
The green infrastructure element of the development includes 132ha of open space. Much of this performs a variety of functions including amenity and recreation, flood control, and habitats created in buffer zones to extend existing habitats and designated sites. These include native deciduous woodland, a wide range of ponds and ditches and new grassland habitat.
The green infrastructure design also tackles the crossing of roads, and we worked with engineers PBA to develop safe crossings for a wide range of species including great crested newts, reptiles, deer and bats.
The proximity of Orton Pit SAC meant that, as part of the process of allocation in the Peterborough Core Strategy, a Habitats Regulation Assessment was required. The detailed design of the access strategy and the green infrastructure, which supported the planning application, were invaluable in providing certainty to the inspector in charge of the Core Strategy Examination in Public that the allocation would not have an adverse impact on the interest of the SAC. Dr Shepherd presented verbal evidence to the EiP on this particular matter.
Speaking on behalf of the Great Haddon Consortium, O&H Property Director David Reavell said: “The decision to approve the Great Haddon development is a major validation of the council’s own aspiration for growth.
“We are very pleased to see council members supporting private sector investment in the future of the city, and recognising that house building is an economic activity like any other.
“With a capital value of £1.5 billion on completion, this project has the ability to contribute significantly to the local economy.
“Delivery of £61 million of new infrastructure serving the immediate and wider area will be used to generate match funding from other sources to ensure Peterborough can deliver its ambitious growth plans and capture government investment for the city as a whole.”
As the project moves forward, we are pleased to be supporting the implementation of the employment land.