Nicholas Pearson Associates
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Projects /
Coopers Edge, Brockworth

Client: Bovis Homes (South West) Ltd., Westbury Homes, Barratt Bristol Ltd. and Persimmon Homes (South Midlands) Ltd.

Location: Brockworth, Gloucestershire

In 1999 Nicholas Pearson Associates (NPA) were appointed by Bovis Homes and Westbury Homes (now Persimmon Homes) as part of a team preparing an outline planning application for approximately 1900 new homes, a new school, sports facilities and associated infrastructure, on a 70 hectare former airfield in Brockworth, Gloucestershire. 

As the development required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), we coordinated the preparation of an Environmental Statement (ES) and undertook assessments of the ecological and landscape and visual impacts. These presented significant issues:

  • The site is adjacent to the Cotswolds AONB, and visual impacts were a key concern;
  • the site is adjacent to a wildflower meadow, Hucclecote Meadows Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), where the adverse effects from any increased recreational use by new residents along a public right of way through the meadows was the key issue;
  • a number of veteran oak trees within the site were of value to rare invertebrates and other wildlife; and
  • Barn Owls (protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act from disturbance) were found to be roosting and breeding in the veteran trees and foraging within the site. 

Guided by the ES, we defined the strategies necessary to avoid and mitigate these effects and agreed these with the developers, local planning authorities and Natural England under a Section 106 agreement and planning conditions, and this helped outline planning permission to be granted in 2005 without any need for a public inquiry.  Our detailed evidence by expert witnesses on these issues was also key to overcoming objections from rival developers to the draft site allocation at Local Plan Inquiry.

We have from the outset played a key environmental design role to ensure that key ecological and landscape issues were fully addressed and incorporated into the outline masterplan, in strategies for open space and sustainable drainage, and in the ongoing detailed designs for infrastructure.  The Wotton Brook, previously culverted under the site, has been restored to an open watercourse on a new alignment. New ponds have been created as part of the sustainable drainage strategy, incorporating reedbeds which also provide valuable wildlife habitats.  Seven main public open spaces within the masterplan will ensure that the creative use of open space meets the demands of the local authorities, the needs of existing and future residents whilst recognising the character and individual features of the area.  These include a range of pitches and other recreational facilities, play areas for younger and older children, retained hedgerows and trees with substantial new planting, and a network of footways and cycleways. We have also played a key role in ensuring the urban design of the area includes for the provision of many new street trees.

Development commenced in 2006, since when we have maintained a key role in monitoring landscape works on site, and ecological and environmental monitoring during construction.  We are implementing the agreed strategies for Hucclecote Meadows SSSI, the veteran trees and Barn Owls, which includes monitoring, wardening, public liaison, and coordination of site works and management. Our involvement has so far successfully improved the SSSI’s condition, retained the veteran trees in good health, helped the Barn Owls move off-site into the adjacent mitigation area (where habitats were specifically created for them), and ensured conservation and fostering of local community awareness, appreciation and enjoyment of the meadows.