A natural legacy of Land and Planning’s work are the many nature parks and public spaces which it has a commitment to protect, improve and enhance for the benefit of indigenous wildlife as well for the local community to enjoy.
Collectively, more than £300,000 has been ploughed into nature parks in the past 12 months and across the portfolio there are numerous examples of how the team has transformed spaces into attractive green nature parks where flora and fauna flourish and people can enjoy visiting.
Development Planning Manager, Charlotte Culshaw, has this year overseen a series of recreational improvements to the Bridgewater Nature Park, in Boothstown, Salford. The park was originally created as part of the Bridgewater Park Residential Estate, which Peel delivered with housebuilding partners in the 1990s and is testament to our long-term commitment to such projects.
A series of improvements made this year to the Bridgewater Park have been funded through Bellway’s Edenfields development which will deliver 107 family homes. Through the residential development contribution, £470,000 had been earmarked for the park’s benefit and already £170,000 has been used to improve pathways, installing new benches as well as vegetation and pond management.
Charlotte said: “Maintaining the 12-acre park is a long-term commitment and we will be investing up to £470,000. The space is well used by the local community and is part of a wider scheme of recreational improvements which we are currently delivering in the area, including an improved Village Green and canal side footpath links.
“A PHD student at The University of Manchester is currently using this recreational scheme as a case study to measure the positive influence green infrastructure can have on health and wellbeing. It’s a really interesting project and we’re looking forward to reviewing the findings.”
Life is also being breathed back into almost 13 acres of land which sits adjacent to the residential developments currently underway at Burgess Farm, Walkden by Redrow Homes (Dukes Manor) and Bloor Homes (Worsley Fold).
The team has embarked on a 10-year programme of landscape works and management to bring back wildlife to the site where over the years the natural ponds have dried out and the landscape eroded by motorcycles and off-road vehicles.
The £250,000 cash injection has gone into landscaping, improved pathways, the re-creation of natural ponds as well as vegetation clearance and management.
Michael Nuttall, Senior Development Planning Manager, explains: “In the late 1980s, the site was designated as the ‘Ponds at New Manchester Site of Biological Importance’, as the area contained important amphibian breeding habitats for the Great Crested Newt, a European protected species. However, over the years the numbers of newts have been in serious decline and are almost non-existent across this site. Through our investment and management we are hopeful of seeing important species returning to the site.”
These Nature Parks will also open up 13 acres of previously inaccessible land to local residents and through the provision of interpretation panels the team aim to educate local residents about the wildlife in their local area. Michael adds: “We are now halfway through the implementation of these works and it is great to see the Nature Parks progressing and being well used by existing and new residents to the area.”
The 70-acre Speke and Garston Coastal Reserve in South Liverpool, is an excellent example of Peel’s long-term dedication to sites of environmental and recreational importance.
In early to mid-2000, Peel and its project partners secured £4 million of public money into the Coastal Reserve to bring this formerly derelict, abandoned and despoiled site into beneficial use and deliver a new building for the Liverpool Sailing Club. Peel has managed the site since, which has become a haven for many breeds of birds and other wildlife. It is also popular with walkers, cyclists and bird watchers and makes up a picturesque part of the circular walking route from the nearby Grade 1 Listed, Speke Hall, owned by the National Trust.
David Thompson, Senior Development Planning Manager, said: “The view from the site over the Mersey Estuary is spectacular and it is fantastic that the public has access. Every so often something unusual comes along, for example, in April part of the site was used for filming scenes for a new television drama. We hope that the dramatic location will make the final cut.”
“In the future, the delivery of expansion plans for Liverpool John Lennon Airport will bring an exciting opportunity to extend the Coastal Reserve around an area known as the Oglet - providing a further 124 acres of Coastal Reserve and new facilities such as a visitor centre.”