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 the policing of ecological inputs in support of separate applications for the Woodside Link bypass and the A5-M1 link road.

Ecological inputs into the application included detailed habitat and botanical surveys and surveys for protected species including bats, Great Crested Newts, Water Voles, Otters, Badgers, breeding and wintering birds, reptiles and invertebrates together with preparation of an ES Ecology Chapter. Arboricultural inputs included preparation of an arboricultural strategy to avoid the up-front cost for a full BS5837 Tree Survey at the outline application stage.

HDA ecologists worked closely to build a relationship with the Central Bedfordshire Ecologist, Natural England and the Wildlife Trust to overcome concerns regarding effects of development on features of nature conservation interest within the site and off-site SSSIs. This relationship has been maintained.

Since planning permission was granted, HDA has been retained. Recent works have included advice on and provision of inputs into Advance Infrastructure Applications, maintaining critical ecological survey work up-to-date in order to identify mitigation requirements and avoid delay to commencement of works, attendance at public exhibitions and review and comment on emerging masterplan and design code documents.

Of the many ways that HDA added value to this project, of particular note are:

  • Advice on protection of ecological features and compliance with nature conservation legislation whilst minimising impacts on net developable area;
  • Negotiation with Natural England, the Wildlife Trust and the CBC Ecologist to minimise contributions towards protection of off-site greenspace.
  • Advice to project team and updating of protected species surveys in order to avoid potential delays to commencement of development as a result of missing opportunities to carry out seasonally constrained mitigation and survey works.