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Water Balancing Scheme and Open Space Delivery

Client / Site: David Wilson Homes / Castle Gresley & Church Gresley

We became involved with David Wilson Homes on the Gresley site in 2005. At this stage an application by David Wilson Homes to create a water balancing facility within a small woodland on the site had been refused by the Local Planning Authority.

The principal objection of the Local Planning Authority was that it would be unacceptable to replace Wildlife Wood, recently planted by local residents, with an unattractive balancing lagoon, only partially wet for the majority of the year.

We undertook a detailed evaluation of the tree resource within the woodland and then, working closely with David Wilson Homes and their engineers, Rogers Leask, designed a revised water balancing scheme that recognised the importance of the trees and woodland on the site and effectively integrated these into the water balancing solution. The revised proposals included:

  • The retention of almost 90% of the existing woodland;
  • The net gain of almost 0.5ha of new native woodland; a significant proportion of which being new wet woodland, a local biodiversity action plan target;
  • Positive management and enhancement of the retained woodland and links into an area of ancient woodland, Hall Wood;
  • New public access with the creation of over 1000m of new surfaced pathways, boarded walkways and viewing platforms through areas of existing and new wetland and wet woodland;
  • Community involvement and educational opportunities;
  • Ecological enhancement;
  • The potential for wider conservation status possibly as a local nature reserve, and
    Effective integration with National Forest strategy and targets.

The scheme has now been delivered and is effectively naturalised. New areas of wet woodland are establishing within the water balancing facility itself, to ensure that they did not impact on the integrity of the water balancing structures, in particular embankments, damns, etc. and provided attractive landscape and ecological habitats.

Since 2005 we have also been involved in the full implementation of the strategic open space delivery on the site over and above the balancing facilities in Wildlife Wood. We have included a second water balancing facility located to the north of the ancient woodland known as Hall Wood, and have agreed with the Local Planning Authority and key stakeholders the creation of over 3ha of new native woodland to provide a strong biodiversity link right the way through the site for both access and wildlife.

A number of tree planting events have been held and local schools have been involved in competitions to assist with the design of signage and educational facilities for the site. Sites are now extensively used by many members of the local community.

“We appointed Lockhart Garratt in 2005 and since then have formed a valued working relationship. Their effective liaison with various stakeholders and the community has been key, and their innovative and practical ideas and knowledge has enabled us to deliver cost effective and innovative solutions that have integrated our public open space delivery with critical engineering requirements. In relation to the delivery of the public open space they have been able to secure support and grant funding from the Forestry Commission and other agencies. Their involvement has been integral to the successful development of the site and continues to be so”.

Ian Althorpe, David Wilson Homes Ltd

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