The site is a former quarry in Combe Down, Bath, adjacent to a SAC and SSSI designated for its bat interest. It is also within the Green Belt and The Cotswold National Landscape. We provided detailed ecological and landscape advice and assessment, including preparing information to inform the Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA), to help gain consent for four houses in this environmentally sensitive location.
The former quarry site included vacant industrial buildings, trees, and other vegetation typically associated with derelict industrial sites. Ecology surveys were undertaken to determine where Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats were roosting and their key commuting routes.
Given the strict protection of the horseshoe bats associated with SAC, a very careful development design strategy was required to avoid adverse impacts on the integrity of the SAC and maintain the favourable conservation status of the horseshoe bats. This included retaining and enhancing key buildings (used as bat roosts) and important habitat corridors. Habitat buffers were also proposed around the site edges to assist with minimising ecological impacts.
The proposed houses were carefully positioned within the site and a lighting strategy avoids unacceptable light-spill on key habitats. Replacement bat roosts are included in the design, and new native tree and shrub planting is proposed.
A Biodiversity Mitigation Plan (BMP) and a Landscape and Ecological Management Plan (LEMP) were prepared as part of the planning application setting out how the proposals would be implemented and managed.
An Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) set out how the potential impacts of the development had been avoided. A Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) calculation demonstrated that our on and off-site landscape proposals would achieve the required biodiversity net gain.
Bath and North East Somerset and Natural England accepted that the proposed development would not lead to unacceptable adverse impacts on the conservation status of key species associated with the SAC. This was of critical importance for achieving successful planning permission.
The project is another is an example of our long association with the school for whom we have helped deliver several successful projects, including support in gaining planning consent for their pre-prep school.
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