This section will set out the "green" infrastructure including details of the ecological investigations and strategy, approach to trees and ancient woodland.
The site comprises a complex of grassland and woodland areas, with a range of different types of woodland represented including Ghyll woodland, wet woodland and dryer woodland types. A network of woodland streams intersects some of them, and there are also a number of ponds present. Ecological surveys have established that there are populations of several protected and notable animal species (including great crested newts, dormice, bats and reptiles) which have been taken into account during the development of the scheme design.
Residential development will be situated within the southern area of grassland, which is of low ecological value. Areas of sensitive woodland will be retained and protected under the proposals, and new green corridors are provided which will contain areas of grassland, woodland and scrub and wetland areas. These will connect the existing higher quality habitats surrounding the site, provide new flight corridors for bats, and increase the amount of habitat available for reptiles, amphibians and birds. Lighting proposals will be carefully developed to limit the extent of light spill onto all retained and proposed habitat areas.
The development offers the opportunity to bring all areas of retained habitat into favourable management, through a combination of woodland management and new habitat creation provided within extensive areas of public open space in the northern part of the development
Trees and ancient woodland
Ancient woodland is defined by Natural England as land continuously wooded since at least 1600AD. Natural England leads a mapping and research effort to identify such woodland, compiling this into the Ancient Woodland Inventory. On consulting this, it is apparent that extensive areas of Inventory Woodland lie within and adjacent to the site, as shown in the Ancient Woodland Map image on this page.
Natural England and the Forestry Commission jointly publish “Standing Advice” on Ancient Woodland within the planning and development context. This Standing Advice explains the special value of Ancient Woodland, the potential risks to it from adjacent development, and how it should be safeguarded from those risks.
The preparation of the Masterplan has been supported by detailed advice from Ancient Woodland specialists Sylvan Consulting. Sylvan have worked with the Design Team to ensure that the proposals;
a) result in no loss of Ancient Woodland, and;
b) that measures will be put in place to prevent it from deterioration arising from collateral development effects.
Particular care has been taken with the design of the site drainage strategy, which ensures continuity of inflows into the watercourses within the two ghyll woodlands of Longwood and Shermanreed. The drainage strategy has been designed to mimic existing inflows to the ghyll-streams to within the range of natural variation, and by this means change to the woodlands’ hydrology is avoided.
All of the Ancient Woodlands on and immediately adjacent to the site will be protected by the use of buffer zones in accordance with Natural England recommendations.