Project aims/ background:
The aim of this woodland lodge scheme was to integrate the development with nature to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain.
What CEC did/ delivered:
The CEC ecology and landscape teams worked together to achieve a sustainable and forward-looking scheme that would strengthen the local landscape and ecosystems, whilst also delivering our client’s dream development.
Having purchased a valley woodland site near Looe, our client saw the potential of this conifer plantation to become a biodiverse native woodland again, as well as being a tranquil and sustainable holiday destination – with revenue from the development actively being used to enhance and manage the site to gradually become native woodland again.
Part of the site was within an ancient woodland designation, and all of the site and surrounding areas are within the Looe and Seton Valleys Area of Great Landscape Value. The site is very tranquil, with almost no car noise and very limited development in the area. It is also on very steep slopes and is forested, as well as being home to protected species including bats, otters and dormice. These constraints were taken on board during design development, with Arco2 Architects developing a light touch solution of buildings raised above ground and designed to sit within the forest landscape, of modern low energy design. The client vision was for users of the lodges to look into tree canopies and through the forest, so preservation of as many trees as possible was a key requirement. The presence of dense and often young plantation woodland required careful consideration of future management provisions to be able to revert it to native woodland.
CEC undertook a suite of detailed ecological surveys (Protected Species Surveys for bats, dormice and reptiles, and National Vegetation Classification), woodland and forestry survey (with survey work undertaken by our sub-consultant from the Cormac arboricultural team), and a landscape and visual appraisal. Findings from these surveys were brought together in a Woodland, Landscape and Ecological Management plan for the site, setting out the vision and means to achieve a substantial biodiversity gain in time in harmony with the development, a key document included in the planning submission. A key part of this plan is formed by the forestry management including widening of rides, felling of conifers and replanting of broadleaves along boundaries, thinning and diversification cycles and new planting, coordinated with ecological requirements. Landscape details for the lodge environment and a new access track were also prepared. A BS5837 tree survey and assessment completed the suite of documents for the areas directly affected by development.
Outcome for client:
The project was granted planning permission
Testimonial from client:
For a project which prioritises preservation of habitats and environmental sensitivity CEC were the obvious choice, not only due to their ability to handle all aspects of the required ecological, arboricultural and landscape assessments under one roof, but also their working relationship with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. This was a complex project which required constant multi-discipline collaboration, but CEC managed the bulk of the application effectively, ultimately resulting in a positive planning decision.
Alex King, Tower Developments