BSG Ecology has been working on proposals for the Great Haddon urban extension on the southern edge of Peterborough for over eight years. Peterborough City Council granted outline planning permission for this significant development in 2013 and construction of the infrastructure is nearing completion and site is now occupied by tenants with more units on the way. The site is broadly split into two key areas:
1). Residential Area
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 hard work for several years by the consortium developer (a joint venture between O&H Properties, Barratt Strategic and Marlborough Oasis Ltd) and the team of consultants supporting the consortium’s vision.
2). Industrial Area
BSG Ecology has also supported Roxhill Development in bringing forward a contiguous site known as the Great Haddon Employment Land, which will be transformed to provide 65 hectares of distribution and manufacturing space in 324,500 square metres of employment space.
BSG Ecology’s Role in the Project
BSG Ecology was an integral part of the consultant team working closely with planning, urban design, engineering and landscape architects on both key areas above. Our focus was to address the site’s complex ecological issues, not least the close proximity of a Special Area for Conservation (SAC) at Orton Pit. We provided services in ecological survey, Environmental Impact Assessment, habitat design and expert witness representation. We also provided advice and input as the masterplan for the area was devised, identifying key components to maintain ecological networks and provide connectivity for protected species.
Our team was led by Dr Peter Shepherd, and we worked closely with LDA Design, PBA, and planners David Lock Associates. Our team led detailed discussions with the city council ecology advisor, planning officers and Natural England, in order 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 and shading on sensitive habitats and species, pollution of water bodies of exceptional quality, increased noise and visitor pressure, and potential predation of amphibians 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 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 were invaluable in providing certainty to the inspector in charge of the Core Strategy Examination in Public (EiP) that the allocation would not have an adverse impact on the interest of the SAC. Dr Shepherd presented evidence to the EiP on this particular matter.
Following planning consent for the Great Haddon Employment Land in 2013, Judith Giles of BSG Ecology continued to work closely with LDA Design and Roxhill Development to ensure that reserved matters pertaining to ecology were successfully discharged. BSG Ecology also implemented mitigation proposals to relocate great crested newts from the development site under a European Protected Species Mitigation licence from Natural England, in conjunction with relocation of reptiles from the site. We also liaised with the landscaping contractors and landscape architects to oversee the installation of a permanent amphibian fence and grilles, newt tunnels, ponds, and creation of a range of valuable new habitats, including an extensive buffer zone replicating the habitats found within the adjacent SAC.
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.
This has possibly been one of the most significant sites for relocation of newts for a development with in excess of 5000 trapped and relocated in the industrial area alone, over a period of two seasons. BSG Ecology was engaged to negotiate numerous licences with Natural England to assist the developer achieve their key timeframes and development programme.
Ongoing, we have been retained by Roxhill Developments Ltd and O&H Properties for post planning support work and will be undertaking monitoring of these new ecology structures and the establishment of new habitats. BSG Ecology has also been retained to undertake ongoing ecology surveys to ensure a current understanding of on-site ecology is maintained as the development programme progresses. This continues our involvement from concept planning in the early days, through enabling works clearing the site, onto ongoing development into the future.