Land north of the Bromham Road, Biddenham is a mixed use development extending over 130 hectares between Biddenham and the River Great Ouse. It includes 1,300 dwellings, a neighbourhood centre, employment land, community and school facilities, a Country Park and nature reserve and the final section of the Bedford Western Bypass.

Extract of Biddenham masterplan

HDA has provided landscape, ecology and arboricultural services, together with masterplanning and environmental assessment coordination. The clients for the development, Hallam Land Management, (HLM) has retained HDA for over 15 years to progress this complex scheme from a Local Plan allocation to its final construction on site. HDA was also been retained by Bedford Borough Council to design the landscape proposals for the road corridor, assess the environmental impacts of the bypass and submit a planning application on their behalf. Both projects have been granted planning permission and are now complete.

To facilitate the project HDA carried out ecological surveys to identify the extent of wildlife species present on the site. Surveys were conducted in compliance with best practice and the current legislation. The surveys identified protected species notably bats, badgers and a resident population of Great Crested Newts. Climbing inspections identified the presence/absence of bats in trees within the site which were also carried out by qualified members of HDA staff prior to felling of trees where required.

Biddenham newt ponds

As part of the masterplanning of the site a 40 hectare Country Park and a Nature Reserve, which included a County Wildlife Site, was created. Within the nature reserve a series of ponds were designed and constructed to accommodate the Great Crested Newt population along with an artificial sett for Badgers and an off-line fish spawning area to the River Great Ouse. HDA prepared a mitigation strategy to address the requirements of legislation, both European and UK in relation to the protected species, in particular the Great Crested Newts. HDA agreed the strategy with Natural England and the Environment Agency and designed and supervised the construction of the receptor ponds, secured a GCN licence to translocate the newt population and supervised the translocation to the new receptor ponds.

The bypass associated with the development has been designed and constructed as a separate contract funded by the developer and central government and managed by Bedford Borough Council. As part of the design and implementation team for the road contract HDA has designed and specified the landscape proposals, ecological mitigation works and long term management plan.

HDA coordinated and prepared a conjoined Environmental Statement which considered the impacts of both the development and the bypass. Landscape and ecological surveys undertaken by HDA, together with a BS5837 tree survey of approximately 1400 trees, which formed part of the baseline for the preparation of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of the proposals. Both EIAs followed best practice and current guidance.

Throughout the extended planning history of this site there have been issues arising in relation to the landscape, trees and ecology of the area. The complex land ownership required a flexible and creative response from the design team, to provide workable and acceptable mitigation strategies (to Natural England and the Environment Agency) within strictly defined timescales and addresses the phased nature of the development. Robust and timely advice from our team in relation to information necessary for the successful approval of a licences was essential for the satisfactory completion of the Section 106 negotiations and final scheme permissions.

Further to the masterplanning of the scheme for the planning application HDA worked with Bedford Borough Council and Oxford Brookes University to generate a Design code for the development. The resulting Design Guide, prepared by HDA was adopted by the Council as a SPD to regulate the detailed design of the project and maintain a distinctive character and appearance to the scheme across the various ownerships and house builders building out the site. HDA continues with the detailed landscape design of housing parcels as they reach completion.