The National Planning Policy Framework requires all schemes to show an ecological enhancement. This can sometimes cause problems when designing masterplans especially if layouts have been fixed before ecological input is sought. It can be very costly to incorporate large areas of green space within fixed layouts if consideration to biodiversity has not been given at the design stage. Early engagement with an ecologist is key, but we have also provided a summary of easy wins and dos/don’ts when designing your development layout.
- Design rear gardens so that they back up against boundary hedgerows/important green corridors. If these features are included within garden boundaries their long-term management cannot be guaranteed and they cannot be included within the enhancement calculations for the scheme
- Create surface water drainage features without consideration to designing it to support wildlife
- Just settle for bat and bird boxes – there are usually more cost effective solutions that provide higher quality habitat for wildlife.
- Assume that ecological enhancements have to be squeezed into a constrained site – there are always other options, such as biodiversity off-setting.
- Retain high quality habitat and green corridors within the scheme. This will maintain opportunities for wildlife, whilst reducing costs associated with habitat creation. This can also provide immediate visual screening
- Concentrated high quality green corridors around the undisturbed edges of the site are better than larger areas of low quality habitat such as amenity grassland
- Appropriate management plans can provide simple solutions and low cost enhancements, for example allowing longer grassland edges to establish around boundary habitats
- Implement a sensitive lighting scheme to retain/create dark corridors across the site for wildlife
- Use native planting and fruit and nut bearing species to enhance foraging opportunities
- Undertake a habitat value assessment calculation for planning applications in East Devon or Warwick, Coventry and Solihull