Ecological Planning & Research

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residential, commercial & mixed use

South of M4 Strategic Development Location, Reading

University of Reading, Taylor Wimpey & David Wilson Homes

As ecological consultant to the Consortium progressing development proposals associated with the South of the M4 SDL near Shinfield, EPR has undertaken substantial ecological survey and assessment work over an area in excess of 600ha, in respect of proposals to develop in the region of 2,500 homes, new schools, infrastructure (including the Shinfield Eastern Relief Road). We provided ecological input to the master-planning process, authored the ecological chapter of the Environmental Statements for a suite of planning applications, together with management plans and the coordination of a Design and Access Statement. EPR also presented key evidence at Public Inquiry that ultimately led to the grant of consent for the first 1,350 homes.

In consultation and agreement with Natural England we have developed a comprehensive Thames Basin Heaths impact avoidance strategy.  This is primarily based around a large and comprehensive suite of SANG within the Loddon Valley, incorporating recreational use together with some significant biodiversity benefits, promoting traditional land management though the introduction of conservation grazing. Successful Liaison with Natural England over the SANGs strategy led to particular praise from the local NE team over the quality of the work prepared.

 

Our design of a suite of SANGs developed to avoid effects on the Thames Basin Heaths SPA, was pivotal in the securing a number of residential consents in this area, and the first part of that suite, Langley Mead, has now opened to the public.

Hampden Fields, Aylesbury

Taylor Wimpey

EPR was appointed to the project team at the last minute, on the recommendation of the project barrister, to rewrite the ecology chapter for the Environmental Statement to support an outline planning application for the construction of up to 3,200 new dwellings, with associated infrastructure.  We were also commissioned to undertake a Habitats Regulations Assessment of the proposed development on the nearby Chilterns Beechwoods SAC.

 

EPR’s involvement ensured a compliant ecology chapter, and resulted in Natural England withdrawing their previously-held objection to the scheme.  We subsequently presented evidence at Public Inquiry.

Upper Froyle, Hampshire

Linden Homes/ Nicolas James Group

As ecological consultants to both Linden Homes and the Nicolas James Group, EPR has undertaken key work to help secure planning permission for a substantial redevelopment of the 6.7 ha site.

 

EPR’s ecological knowledge and experience was essential from the initial ecological appraisal stage through to the further protected species surveys, the design of a mitigation strategy and the successful acquisition of two European Protected Species Licences (EPSLs) for Bats and Great Crested Newts. The subsequent dual implementation of these EPSLs has allowed site works to progress in line with the project timetable.

 

Throughout this process EPR has successfully helped both Linden Homes and the Nicolas James Group to facilitate the delivery of their respective developments, and were subsequently entrusted with the task of the long-term ecological management of the site.

Abbotswood Romsey

Taylor Wimpey

EPR has been part of the project team for over 10 years, and was pivotal in achieving a planning consent for 800 houses, on a site which includes a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, and a large population of Great Crested Newts.

Our input included extensive ecological surveys, preparation of the ecology chapter for the Environmental Statement and the design and current implementation of a 25ha nature conservation area, preparation of a management plan and application for an EPS licence for the Great Crested Newts.

 

Our ongoing monitoring of the Great Crested Newt population has shown that the proposed habitat creation and mitigation measures are working, and there are now more Great Crested Newts living on site than before the development began.

Broadmoor Hospital

West London Mental Health NHS Trust

Major project to rebuild the old part of Broadmoor Hospital in a new location within the Broadmoor Estate, funded by redevelopment of the remaining land, including around 500 residential units a commercial area, an energy centre and associated roads and infrastructure.

 

The development site is in close proximity to the Broadmoor and Bagshot Woods and Heaths SSSI, a component part of the Thames Basin Heaths SAC and SPA, and as ecological consultants on the project team, our work has concentrated on impact avoidance and mitigation strategies for the designated sites.

 

We have worked closely with a multidisciplinary team to develop a viable mitigation and open space strategy, for hospital workers and potential new residents, including provision of an area of Suitable Accessible Natural Greenspace (SANG) to avoid the potential impacts of recreational disturbance on the SPA birds arising from the proposals. We have also assessed the impacts of the predicted an increase in deposition of NOx, nutrient nitrogen and acid nitrogen on part of the SSSI and SAC as a result of increased road traffic and as a result of the operation of the energy centre.  In both cases we have been able to demonstrate no likely significant effect on the European sites, assisting in the release of development potential on the site.

Whitehill & Bordon Eco-town

East Hampshire District Council

EPR was commissioned by East Hampshire District Council’s (EHDC) Eco-town Team to refresh the Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) for the Whitehill & Bordon Eco-town following production of the Whitehill & Bordon Draft Revised Framework Masterplan. The HRA Refresh was undertaken in parallel with a 2012 visitor survey of the European designated sites and proposed Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANGs) in the vicinity of the proposed Eco-town. EPR was responsible for designing the questionnaire, in consultation with stakeholders, and the visitor survey was undertaken during the summer of 2012.

 

Objectives of the HRA Refresh included gathering information to enable an assessment of the implications that the Eco-town Draft Revised Framework Masterplan for European sites (including Kingsley, Broxhead, Shortheath and Ludshott Commons) and their forthcoming access management plans and monitoring strategies, in order to assess whether conclusions drawn previously still held true, and to enable proposals to progress based upon a sound evidence base. It also identified potential access management solutions to address both existing and potential access issues for the SPAs/SACs, and developed these into outline access management plans that could be delivered in conjunction with the Whitehill & Bordon Eco-town.

 

Outline Access Management Plans for European sites in the vicinity of the Eco-town were prepared by EPR in consultation with the 'HRA Working Group' which comprised a diverse range of stakeholders, including: the National Trust, Hampshire and Surrey Wildlife Trusts, the MoD, ARC Trust, the Environment Agency, Hampshire County Council, the South Downs National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission, the RSPB and local interest groups and residents.

 

The development of a strong and trusting relationship with all stakeholders through regular communication, including a number of HRA working group workshops and meetings certainly played an integral part in the success of the project. Round table discussion sessions focused around large, individual site maps proved effective in facilitating the sharing of views and concerns relating to future management of each of the European sites in a relaxed and open environment.

 

More recently, EPR has been commissioned to advise on the beneficial interim uses of greenspace areas associated with the town, prior to the delivery of development.

Above: The Whitehill & Bordon Working Group

Former Meridian TV Studios Southampton

Oakdene Homes

EPR was commissioned to undertake the ecological assessment of a proposed commercial and residential development on the former Meridian TV site adjacent to the River Itchen in Southampton (and within the study area for this project), part of the Solent and Southampton Water SPA.  In addition to a series of low tide wintering waterfowl counts, EPR undertook specific flyway counts to determine how birds were using the area and to assess whether the proposed development would significantly affect any existing flightlines used by wintering waterfowl.   Vantage point watches were undertaken on either side of Northam Bridge, carried out at different points in the tidal cycle, at various times of day (including hours of dawn and dusk where possible) and in a variety of weather conditions.

Dilly Lane, Hartley Wintney

Barratt Homes

EPR’s involvement in this project was pivotal to the successful consent for 170 homes for Barratt Homes (Southern Counties) Limited. The principal ecological issue associated with the scheme related to the potential effects on the nearby Thames Basin Heath SPA.  EPR designed the mitigation package, primarily consisting of 10 hectares of alternative recreational open space, based on an extensive visitor survey, undertaken by EPR.  This was crucial to the success of substantive negotiations with Natural England, led by EPR, which resulted in Natural England dropping their objection to the scheme.  EPR’s approach and evidence was subsequently upheld by the High Court in a landmark decision.

 

Following successful consent for this project, EPR was commissioned to oversee the creation of the SANG areas, and their management until adopted by Hart District Council.   We carried out the reversion of the area from arable land into species and wildflower-rich grassland, planting whips and semi mature trees plus the installation of all of the SANG infrastructure such as gates and fences, fingerposts, and interpretation panels.  Having established the habitat, we are now managing and maintaining the site in accordance with the management plan which we also prepared.

Above: Newly established species-rich grassland developing at the Dilly Lane SANG

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