BSG Ecology was commissioned to undertake an extended Phase 1 habitat survey of a 24.5 hectare site near Wrexham by Renew Planning (on behalf of the Wynnstay Estate). The survey was required to provide supporting information for a planning application for a mixed commercial and residential development.
The proposals include the construction of up to 319 dwellings, extra care accommodation and commercial development consisting of a food store with petrol filling station, a public house, light industrial units and an hotel. The proposals also include the retention of an existing pond and woodland that was subject to a Tree Preservation Order, and soft landscaping including maintenance of a 10 metre buffer zone along the southern edge of the site where a small section of the Offa’s Dyke (a Scheduled Ancient Monument) is located.
BSG Ecology’s Role in the Project
The extended Phase 1 habitat survey identified a number of potential ecological issues. Further detailed surveys were completed for bats, breeding birds, great crested newt, grass snake, butterflies (in particular dingy skipper) and to detail the botanical interest of the site. The survey scope was agreed upfront with the Local Planning Authority Ecologist.
The surveys did not reveal the presence of great crested newt, grass snake or badger. Four species of amphibian were identified on site and a range of breeding birds typical of arable farmland, hedgerow, woodland and scrub habitats were recorded. Four species of bats and five species of common butterfly were noted.
The development layout was guided by the findings of the ecological surveys and, BSG Ecology worked closely with the project team to ensure that, wherever possible, features of ecological interest were retained and incorporated into the development.
BSG Ecology worked with the client team to retain the majority of habitats of ecological value and to put forward appropriate mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures in order to meet planning policy requirements. Measures proposed were:
- The removal of Japanese knotweed from the site;
- The creation of species-rich grassland(s);
- New native tree, hedgerow and scrub planting;
- The incorporation of bat roosting opportunities into new buildings;
- The incorporation of bird nesting opportunities into new buildings;
- The provision of off-site habitat (within the land holding of the Wynnstay Farming Company Limited) to compensate for the loss of habitat for ground nesting birds.
Planning permission was granted by Wrexham Borough Council in 2015. The permission was subject to one ecological condition, which related to a farmland bird management plan.