Ecology & Wildlife

Please note: All wildlife photographs on this website were taken on, or adjacent to, the development site. (except some images on the wildlife survey form which are included for identification purposes)


On the 10th February 2020 the land North of Shirley Road was cleared. We believe this to have been carried out by, or on behalf of, The Co-op, who own the land. The removal of most of the trees, shrubs and other flora virtually destroyed the habitat that supported the many species loved by residents in the area. Many of the animal species that have previously been seen in the field are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981. This piece of legislation protects all birds from intentionally being killed or injured and protects the disturbance of bird nests while in use. It also protects all animals listed under Schedule 5 of WCA, which includes the common lizard, palmate newt, smooth newt, slow worms, and all species of bats.

Generally, when a developer carries out an ecological survey, they check and evaluate the existing biodiversity in the site proposed for development. Despite all the amazing biodiversity that was present on this site prior to the site clearance, with it having been fallow for at least 60 years, the ecological survey for the Ilke Homes proposal was conducted around the beginning of September 2020, seven months after initial clearing. This was followed by a further mulching of the site just a week later. Ilke homes are claiming that they will improve biodiversity on the site. They have used a baseline for the decimated land in their survey after it was cleared by The Co-op, rather than surveying the highly biodiverse land that was present before the clearing.

Ilke homes are therefore, unlikely to be able to meet the original level of biodiversity (pre February 2020), let alone create a gain on the land. This appears to be misrepresenting the site and may be The Co-ops/Ilke Homes way around meeting the criteria to have a gain in biodiversity.

In the preliminary plans presented by Ilke Homes during November 2020, 57 additional immature trees are indicated around the site. The planting of additional trees would be done to try and improve biodiversity. However, immature trees have been shown not to support the wildlife that is present on the sight. Many birds, especially birds of prey, and bats require a variety of species of large mature trees as they provide better cover. With this reduction in the number of mature trees and an increased noise and sound pollution on the site, these species are not likely to survive, therefore decreasing biodiversity.

The wild plants and shrubs that provide food and shelter for many animals will be replaced by grass lawns and verges. The current plans do not indicate that the site will provide any natural greenways or corridors to allow the wildlife to travel within the development or from the Pocket Park, located Northwest of Crane Close, to the Greenway at the East end of Prospect Avenue, as has been indicated in all plans for this site by  North Northamptonshire Council. To improve the connectivity of the remaining natural habitats, Ilke Homes should include a wildlife corridor of natural vegetation running north/south along the west boundary (between house numbers 71 and 61 and then continuing northwards up to house No 22, (ref; Ilke Homes drawing, reference 8806-L-102, dated 05 March 2021). There should also be a wildlife corridor running east/west from house No 22 to house No 2, connecting the existing pocket park copse to the existing Greenway, adjacent to the existing rail track. This wildlife corridor, separating the gardens of Prospect Avenue from the new development has previously been included as a 20m wide wildlife corridor in previous plans for the site. Furthermore, it is stated as a requirement in the East Northamptonshire District Local Strategy Plan for Rushden (1996). These wildlife corridors would connect the existing copse, proposed balancing pond and existing Greenway, providing vital access for the existing wildlife. Without this, the development is likely to see an increased number of traffic accidents involving wildlife, such as deer and foxes, when they are forced to travel over roads. Since the 6ft metal fencing has been installed on the site, we have already seen an increase in the number of Muntjac deer on the streets of Peck Way and Crane close, at night and during the day and several have died, stuck in between the sharp railings.

The gardens attached to the properties are small and enclosed with fences. Previous questions sent to Ilke homes about including hedgehog highways and bat boxes have not been answered, with any detail. European Hedgehogs are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List but are on the brink of becoming endangered. These hedgehogs will lose all accessibility to this land and will be likely to be hit by cars or attacked by dogs.  The government has passed guidance regarding hedgehog highway networks that should be included in all new developments.

On the 23rd December 2020 the residents in Peck Way, Rushden, were faced with their homes being flooded for the first time since these houses had been built, circa 2002. We can only assume this was caused by the removal of extreme amounts of vegetation earlier in 2020 and the clay soil leading to extra water runoff. This flooding is likely to continue, possibly get worse and potentially become more frequent, if the new houses are built on this land. The concrete and tarmac used for the development will only increase the speed of water runoff and not allow the soil to hold or slow down the water.

You can help the wildlife in your local community by creating spaces in your garden for local wildlife, such as hedgehog boxes or having a small hole in your fence to allow animals to pass through, creating ‘hedgehog highways’ around the development.

Please complete the wildlife survey to help us keep fighting to protect our wildlife. As you can see from our wildlife map, many people have sent in details about species that they have seen, which include protected and endangered species. Download the Wildlife Survey form  for more details, or send a list of species that you have spotted in or immediately adjacent to the development land, to the contact details on the home page.

Planning Application update:

Since Ilke Homes published their preliminary site plan in 2020, they have revised their site plan as part of the Planning Application (NE/21/00498/FUL). We have added the additional comments following a review of their planning application:

  • No detailed ecological surveys have been included in the planning application for review / comment confirming the extent and number of different species on/adjacent to the site regarding trees, flora and wildlife, only brief statements are included within the Design Access Statement. The full ecological survey results for the Phase 1 Habitat Survey should be made available.
  • We acknowledge the included bio-diversity report included as part of the planning application.
  •  The ecology comments/information submitted by Ilke Home are included on page 47 of the Design Access Statement.
  •  Low levels of bat activity and moderate potential for supporting bats roosting in trees are indicated. The relevant trees are noted to be soft felled. However, these specific trees are not identified in the Tree Survey Plan drawing No 9637-T-01 rev A.
  • As bat activity, and potential roosting sites, have been confirmed a full and detailed bat survey should be completed, as per the Bat Conservation Trust, in accordance with the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
  • The application indicates that bat boxes are to be included in their proposal. Specific details, ie location, type and number of bat boxes, should be detailed in Ilke Homes proposals.
  •  Similar to the above, specific details, ie location, type and number of bird boxes, should be detailed in Ilke Homes proposals. They also confirm there are common lizards on the site so there should be a reptile survey and published mitigation plans to show how to avoid, reduce or manage any negative effects to the common lizards which are a protected species. Surveys can be done in April, May or September. Avoid July to August and November to February.
  •  The ecology information submitted does not indicate any provision to support the movement of small wildlife, such as hedgehogs, between gardens. Hedgehogs are in significant decline and are protected by law. The Government has issued guidance on the inclusion of a ‘hedgehog highway’ in developments, since the successful submission of a petition by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
  •  Page 20 of the Design Access Statement indicates a proposed green link along the site North boundary with the rear gardens of Prospect Avenue. A similar green link along the North boundary is also noted as being required in the East Northamptonshire District Local Plan, Rushden Strategy Statement 1996. However, a green link at the North boundary is not indicated in the ecology notes and site plan drawings and should be included to link the green habitats of the Greenway east/west to the coppice on the North side of Crane Close.
  • Furthermore, a continuous green link along the West boundary should also be included to link the same coppice with the proposed open space and balancing pond within the development. The Biodiversity report confirms a “nett loss of -9.62 habitat units” which would be improved if these two continuous green links were included in a revised proposal.
  •  The council policies (North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy 2011-2031 – 3.34 Sites designated at a local level, and also against Biodiversity SPD for Northamptonshire) states that a Biodiversity gain, not loss, should be achieved.
  • The proposed 751.7m2 area of green open space is not sufficient for a development of this size and should be increased further to improve the noted nett loss of -9.62 habitat units. In these areas, flowering meadow grass should be planted, instead of amenity grassland, to improve the biodiversity.
  •  The site plans included within the Biodiversity report differ to the site Landscape proposal drawing and the main site plan drawings (8806-L-103 sheets 1-4). The location and extent of new planting differ between documents and should be amended to be consistent between all documents.
  •  The existing line of sycamore trees located on the boundary in the Southeast corner of the site are indicated in the proposals to be removed. However, if the road at this location were to be relocated slightly West, this line of trees could be retained, again improving the Biodiversity. These trees are noted to be in good condition, per DEFRA technical guidance, and should be retained to improve the nett loss of habitat and provide a natural screen between the development and the railway.
  •  A number of semi-mature and mature trees are identified as being removed and replaced with younger trees which are not an equivalent replacement, thus reducing the number of habitat units and should be avoided.
  • When building a new development within 3km of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Natural England are required to give their approval regarding the ecology and biodiversity aspects. The Ilke Homes proposal identifies 3 SSSI sites within 3km, including Rushden Lakes, and therefore Natural England should review and comment on the proposals.
  • The Biodiversity report (item 4.11) states that the site is surrounded by residential and industrial development, which is not true. The East boundary borders the disused railway and the Greenway, which currently supports a broad variety of wildlife. To the Northwest corner of the site is located a coppice and grassland, which supports further wildlife. These areas which support existing wildlife should be acknowledged and protected.