Preliminary Ecological Appraisal

The first stage of assessment when beginning a new project usually involves carrying out a desk study and Phase 1 Habitat survey (JNCC, 2010). This provides an early indication of any ecological constraints and opportunities inherent to the site, in addition to an assessment of whether protected and notable species are likely to occur.

habitat surveys

Planning policy and Natural England Standing Advice require that planning applications are supported by an appropriate level of ecological survey and assessment. Early identification of survey requirements allows seasonally constrained surveys to be programmed in at an early stage, which not only avoids unnecessary delays, but also allows for the integration of avoidance and mitigation measures into the development design. HDA carries out an extensive range of habitat surveys, some of which include:

  • Areas of woodland are often valuable ecological habitats and may support bats, birds, dormice and badger.
  • Ponds are a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitat and may support great crested newts.
  • Rivers or streams are often UK or local BAP habitats and may support water voles, otters or white-clawed crayfish.
  • Areas of rough grassland or scattered scrub provide suitable reptile habitat and may supportnotable invertebrates.
  • Arable fields are usually of low nature conservation interest in their own right but on a large scale can support notable bird populations and a range of wildlife along field margins.
  • Hedgerows provide important connective habitat and can form significant wildlife habitat in their own right for species such as dormice and birds.
  • Buildings often provide roosting opportunities for bats and can provide breeding habitat for birds such as barn owl or swift.
project examples


Working with ASP, HDA helped Knight Developments achieve a resolution to grant planning permission for this scheme of 103 homes in Wealden District.The site is within the High Weald AONB and within 7km of the Ashdown Forest SPA/SAC. HDA’s inputs included landscape, ecology, masterplanning and expert witness.


HDA provided ecological and arboricultural input in support of the successful EIA application for the construction of up to 5150 residential dwellings and associated employment, education, infrastructure and open space at approximately 262ha of land at Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire. The work was carried out on behalf of Lands Improvement Holdings (LIH). The work also included …


HDA has co-ordinated ecological surveys and produced the Ecology chapter to the Environmental Statement for a scheme to develop 132 ha of land as a mixed use development at Biddenham in Bedfordshire. The scheme includes a 40 hectare Country Park and Nature Reserve. Within the Nature Reserve, HDA have created ponds specifically to receive a …


As part of a series of studies to inform the Local Development Framework process, Worthing Borough Council commissioned HDA to assess the physical and environmental constraints on development in the Borough with a view to determine the landscape capacity of greenfield sites to accommodate future development. The assessment required detailed analysis of landscape structure and …


Warwickshire Police Headquarters is located in Leek Wootton, south of Kenilworth. The estate, the grounds to a Grade II listed Manor House, Woodcote Manor, have been the police headquarters since World War II. The preferred plan for the redevelopment of the site was to retain the site location as the police HQ in new premises …