Project : Popley Fields & Marnel Park, Basingstoke – species mitigation
David Wilson Homes
Landmark has worked with David Wilson Homes (DWH) since 2000 to bring forward a 32 ha allocated site on the outskirts of Basingstoke. The site, under arable management and bordered by hedgerows and a small copse, lies next to Popley Ponds Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC), a known breeding site for the European protected great crested newt.
The application site represented the last remaining open countryside bordering Popley Ponds. Surveys of the breeding pond were therefore undertaken to establish the population size and to understand how great crested newts used of terrestrial habitat within the site.
A development strategy, developed in consultation with English Nature, established a network of newt habitat through the development site. This was based on a new 40 m wide buffer zone of rough grass and scrub habitat along the site boundary with the pond, and two similar corridors with large, innovative culvert underpasses beneath road crossings, linking through the site to countryside beyond. Two new ponds were also created to re-establish links to another breeding great crested newt population nearby.
Interpretation boards leaflets in residents Home Buyers’ packs both help to boost public awareness and a great crested newt mosaic, designed by local school children and the artist Julieann Worrall Hood, has been installed at the site.
Planning consent was granted, supported by a protected species management plan. Ongoing monitoring by Landmark ecologists indicates that the mitigation has been successful and the newt population is expanding.
A design solution based on complex scientific research, developed with English Nature and supported by technical planning advice, enabled development of an attractive residential development with minimal effect on an ecologically sensitive site. Site works were supervised by Landmark’s Ecological Clerk of Works.