Durham City development is praised by nature groups

NATURE groups have welcomed plans to encourage wildlife diversification in a major development proposed for Durham City.

NATURE groups have welcomed plans to encourage wildlife diversification in a major development proposed for Durham City.

Justin Hancock and Barry Grimes of the Banks Group

Durham Wildlife Trust, The Woodland Trust, and the Durham Bat Group have come together to recognise the lengths to which the Meadowfield-based Banks Group has gone to prioritise the needs with its Mount Oswald development proposals.

Banks developed a “green infrastructure plan” as part of the Mount Oswald planning application, a core part of which looks at a range of measures to encourage the diversification of wildlife in the area.

Existing animal corridors that run through the site both on the ground and through the trees would be safeguarded and improved, and a range of habitat enhancements would be introduced.

New woodland in the central part of the site would link up with existing copses, and both new and existing footpaths would link communities with surrounding green spaces at Blaid’s Wood and the Woodland Trust’s Low Burnhall site.

Jim Cokill, director at the Durham Wildlife Trust, said: “Banks has recognised the importance of progressing development work within the widest possible view of sustainability, and of supporting and providing connections between habitats across a site such as Mount Oswald.

“The proposals that have been put forward very much fit in with our Living Landscapes agenda, which aims to support wildlife-rich spaces in rural and urban areas by working in partnership with local communities, landowners, schools and businesses.”

Gary Haley, site manager for The Woodland Trust’s estate in the North East, added: “Linking up and extending existing woodland areas through the planting of new native species, rather than planting in isolation, is an important factor in securing the wellbeing of these areas, and we’re pleased to see that Banks has adopted this approach within its Mount Oswald development plans.”

Noel Jackson of the Durham Bat Group said: “We’re very pleased with the way in which we’ve been directly involved in the consultation process around the Mount Oswald development proposals as, all too often, wildlife issues only get paid lip service in this sort of consultative process, rather than receiving the full attention that they merit.”

Based around the concept of a linear park, the Mount Oswald development would see a number of natural corridors running through the site which open up into a range of different public spaces which, along with a network of footpaths, would cover more than 17 acres.

Both formal play spaces and informal open spaces are included in the plan, as well as a community garden, over 3.5km of new footpaths and a sustainable drainage system to help ensure water is used as efficiently as possible.

As well as encompassing executive housing and an education quarter, the scheme would also include a range of new community facilities, with local employment opportunities being created through a new convenience store, health centre, small offices and the sustainable re-use of the Mount Oswald manor house.

Banks submitted a planning application for the Mount Oswald scheme in August, and is hoping that a decision will be made on it before the end of the year.


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