Biodiversity Supplementary Planning Document

Ended on the 22 March 2023
If you are having trouble using the system, please try our help guide.

(5) Chapter 6: Creating space for nature design principles

This chapter includes creating space for nature design principles. Each principle includes a description of why it is important and has been included in this SPD and core requirements. These principles set out how the Council expects biodiversity to be incorporated into development proposals to create space for nature in accordance with Policy ENV1 (Part C):

(iii) Will conserve or enhance the biodiversity value of greenfield and brownfield sites and minimise fragmentation of habitats; and

(iv) Maximises opportunities for the preservation, restoration, enhancement and connection of natural habitats in accordance with the UK and Essex Biodiversity Action Plans or future replacements; and

(v) Incorporates beneficial biodiversity conservation features, measurable biodiversity net gain of at least 10% in line with the principles outlined in the Natural England Biodiversity Metric, and habitat creation where appropriate.

Creating space for nature design principle

Core requirements

Contribute to Colchester's green-blue infrastructure network. Create new green-blue infrastructure that is appropriate and proportionate to the size and location of the development proposal. Create connections to existing green-blue infrastructure.

Why? Green-blue infrastructure has multiple benefits including benefits for biodiversity, recreation, climate change resilience and health and wellbeing. The Essex Local Nature Partnership have targets for the current 14% of green infrastructure coverage of Essex to be increased to 25% green infrastructure coverage by 2030; and access to high quality green space for all.

  • Include at least 10% of the gross site area as usable open space in accordance with policy DM18.
  • Large areas of habitat are better than smaller, fragmented areas.
  • Avoid including all activities in a small area, i.e. recreational activities intermixed with biodiversity space.
  • Take opportunities to connect new open spaces with existing open spaces and other green-blue infrastructure.
  • Wherever possible, wildflower nectar providers should be embedded within the landscape including grass verges.
  • Whilst not adopted by the Council, applicants should have regard to the advice in the Essex Green Infrastructure Standards Guidance and Building with Nature Standards.

Plant new trees across the development site, including street trees.

Why? Trees help improve air quality, enhance ecological connectivity, and help reduce the urban heat island effect. Street trees can act as natural traffic management measures.

  • In accordance with Policy CC1 of the Local Plan, a minimum of 10% increase in canopy cover is required on all major development sites.
  • The Council has prepared a Tree Canopy Cover Assessment guidance note.
  • Consider the suitability of the site for tree planting, including the species to be planted.
  • Tree planting on important grassland habitat should be avoided.
  • Trees should be locally sourced from reputable suppliers.
  • Natural regeneration of scrub and trees should generally be the default option.
  • Consideration should be given for accompanying undergrowth as habitat provision.

Retain and enhance existing hedges and create new hedges. Hedges should be used in preference to fences as boundaries to properties. New hedges are usually best when they comprise mixed native species. Buffers should be included on either side to retain, encourage, introduce species movement, foraging, nesting.

Why? Good quality hedges provide food, shelter, and safe breeding sites for wildlife.

  • Identify existing hedgerows in the landscape plan and indicate where new hedges are to go to provide connectivity.
  • Carry out remedial works to rejuvenate neglected hedges, including gapping up with additional plants.
  • Provide buffer strips of wildflower grassland, cut every other year on rotations.
  • Clearly show buffer strips and the size of these in the landscape plan.

Deadwood from veteran trees should be kept in situ where possible or moved to a safe place onsite with no or minimal processing.

Why? Deadwood is a valuable habitat and food source for a range of wildlife.

Fit integral swift bricks and house martin nest boxes in all new developments.

Why? Swifts, house sparrows, starlings and house martins depend on buildings for nesting and roosting and have been significantly affected by changes to buildings.

  • Include at least one nest brick or 'universal brick' per house.
  • Nests should be clustered in suitable areas of the development.
  • Nest bricks should be fitted adjacent to the roofline in the cold loft space of a gable or tight to the eaves of hipped roofs.
  • Elevations exposed to particularly sunny, or driving wind and rain are better avoided.
  • The British Standard BS42021 sets out details on nest box installation.
  • Further information available through various sources, including Swift Conservation.

Fit integral bat bricks in appropriate locations in all new developments.

Why? A number of species depend on buildings for nesting and roosting.

  • Retain and enhance existing mature landscape features e.g. trees, hedges, ponds and streams, within the development as these are favoured foraging areas.
  • Ensure good connectivity between roosts and foraging areas by providing native hedges and trees.
  • Locate integral roost bricks where they are warmed by the sun.
  • Design the lighting plan to avoid illuminating roost entrances or the areas between the roost and foraging areas.
  • Diversify roost provision: some species roost in boxes on trees, others in boxes integrated into buildings.
  • It is usually best to locate bricks in / around clusters of houses.
  • Further information available through various sources, including the Bat Conservation Trust.

Create solitary bee nests.A bee hotel is designed to provide a home to solitary bees that live naturally in cracks, hollows, and holes instead of hives.

Why? To provide habitat for solitary bees. In Britain there are around 250 species of solitary bees. These bees are effective pollinators. Unlike honeybees and bumblebees, solitary bees do not live in colonies.

Include holes and other materials for the bees to live in.

Create wildlife highways in boundary walls and fences.

Why? Hard boundaries such as walls and fences form a barrier to ground dwelling animals such as hedgehogs, reptiles, and amphibians, inhibiting their movement around a housing development. Hedgehogs have undergone massive long-term declines (State of Nature). Hedgehogs roam across large areas in search of food, shelter, and mates. Connecting as many gardens as possible is key.

  • Create small 13cm diameter or 13cm square holes in garden fences or walls to allow small ground dwelling animals to pass between gardens. This will be too small for most pets.
  • Avoid making holes that lead directly onto roads.
  • The Hedgehog Street campaign list simple ways to help hedgehogs in our gardens and green spaces.

Watercourses should be protected for cleanliness and retained and have a biodiversity green buffer margin for aquatic species.

Why? Buffers retain, encourage, introduce species movement, foraging, nesting.

Include green roofs and green walls where possible.

Why? Green roofs and walls insulate buildings, attenuate water run-off, provide habitat for wildlife, and pale renders reflect rather than absorb heat so reduces heating of the building. They can also benefit invertebrates and birds.

  • Include a mix of fine grasses and wildflowers, sown on a shallow nutrient-poor substrate. Wildflower turfs may also be used instead of seed.
  • Include a diversity of surface topography with piles of stones and even small ephemeral water features.
  • Consider green roofs and green walls on communal bin areas, bus shelters and bike stores.

Include grass rather than artificial grass.

Why? Artificial grass does not deliver drainage and biodiversity benefits.

Artificial lighting, including floodlighting, should avoid spill on to 'dark corridors' such as hedgerow networks, railway embankments, waterways, parkland, woodland edge habitat or trees and buildings supporting bats or owls.

Why? Artificial lighting affects bats and owls. Lighting in the vicinity of a bat roost causes disturbance and potential abandonment of the roost.

  • A lighting design plan will need to be submitted and should include the specification, number, orientation, dimming and control (timing, sensing) arrangement for each luminaire and a lux contour plan if appropriate.

Create underpasses and green bridges to enable wildlife to span roads otherwise presenting a barrier to free movement.

Why? To enable wildlife to safely cross roads and avoid becoming isolated.

  • Plant with a variety of local trees or shrubs and other vegetation.
  • Take opportunities to connect habitats.

Brownfield sites of high biodiversity value must be recognised with a presumption in favour of protection of such sites.

Why? Brownfield sites can have high ecological value but can be overlooked.

  • Applicants need to understand and consider the ecological value of brownfield sites.

Make new homeowners aware of the wildlife within and nearby the development site.

Why? Making new and prospective homeowners aware of the wildlife they might find on a development will help generate interest and make householders aware of the uniqueness and sensitivity of the area. It can be used to help market the new homes.

  • Produce leaflets or digital information for householders making them aware of the biodiversity features of the development.
  • Include interpretation signs at appropriate locations.

These design principles set out the Council's expectations. The core requirements list some of the requirements, but full requirements/ details are not included in the table, above. Applicants should discuss the principles in this SPD with an ecologist at an early stage to ensure the principles are fully understood and integrated into the design of the development.

If you are having trouble using the system, please try our help guide.
back to top back to top