LUC was appointed by heritage developer City & Country to provide ecology support for the proposed redevelopment of Bramshill House and Gardens in Hampshire.
Previously a police college, the 150ha site includes a Grade I Listed Mansion and a Grade I* Registered Historic Park and Garden. The site also includes part of the internationally important Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA). Policy states that residential development within 5km of the SPA must provide avoidance and mitigation measures, whilst development within 400m would be unlikely to be able to avoid impacts on the SPA.
City & Country intend to secure a sustainable and viable long-term future for this key heritage asset. The proposals include restoring the sites historic buildings for residential or office use, providing new housing within the site and restoration of the site’s historic landscape. This would involve removing buildings and restoring historic tree-lined avenues and vistas. The scheme will also provide extensive ecological enhancements including restoration of habitats, strengthening of landscape connectivity and beneficial management in perpetuity.
The Bramshill site is highly constrained by a range of ecological issues including numerous protected species and special habitat types. Most notable however, is the proximity of the SPA, as the applications propose residential development within both the 5km ‘zone of influence’ and the 400m ‘exclusion zone’. In response to this challenge, LUC provided expert ecological advice to ensure sensitive scheme design from the outset, and worked closely with Natural England, the RSPB, the Wildlife Trust and the Local Planning Authority to develop a bespoke suite of mitigation measures to ensure that impacts on this internationally important site would be avoided. Through extensive consultation and joint working, we were able to reach a unique position where Natural England confirmed that the project represented an ‘exceptional circumstance’ and could be implemented without significant effects on the SPA.
The planning appeals associated with the project are currently the subject of a Public Inquiry where LUC is providing evidence as an expert witness.