FPCR is pleased to announce the recent approval of Elm Close, Wells, a development providing up to 100 new dwellings, open space, recreational facilities and a sustainable drainage system. Approval has followed a rollercoaster ride over the years as the site was originally signed up with the landowners in 2013 and engagement between Gladman Developments Ltd and the Mendip District Council Planning Policy Team, with input from FPCR ecology, landscape and arboriculture disciplines, resulted in the site finally being allocated.
The FPCR South West Team conducted a full Ecological Impact Assessment, which included a Phase 1 habitat survey and surveys for badger, bats, dormice and reptiles. As the site was within 10km of several Natural 2000 sites, notably Wookey Hole SSSI (1.4 km), a hibernation roost for horseshoe bats and part of the North Somerset and Mendips Bat SAC, ensuring adequate information for a Habitats Regulations Assessment was a key consideration. The survey findings included evidence of both greater and lesser horseshoe bats utilising habitat features on the site. Using the Habitats Evaluation Procedure set out in the North Somerset and Mendip Bats SAC Technical Guidance, FPCR worked with the Council and project team in ensuring not only were the key habitat features protected, but the Development Framework had the capacity to deliver an overall net-gain in horseshoe bat habitat in line with the Local Plan. Both Mendip Council and Natural England were satisfied the site would have no effect on the integrity of the local SACs following Appropriate Assessment.
Alongside ecology, FPCR also carried out landscape and visual related services for this project, which were of great importance due to the sites’ location within 2km of the Mendip Hills AONB and visible from a wide area to the south of the site. The overall landscape strategy was to minimise any adverse impact of the development, whilst protecting the existing landscape framework and creating new habitat opportunities for local fauna and flora. With this in mind, a generous amount of public open space was incorporated into the scheme, with native tree planting in the southern part of the site including equipped play facilities and a sustainable drainage system. Arboriculture input helped inform the landscape strategy for the site and the vast majority of hedgerows and all of the mature trees were maintained and set within greenspace, creating valuable wildlife corridors and bat habitat. Two public footpaths pass over the site, which were incorporated into the development with additional connections made to improve connectivity into the surrounding area for new and existing residents alike.
As a result of FPCR’s extensive efforts, the Mendip District Planning Committee resolved to approve planning permission for Land South of Elm Close (subject to S106). Gladman Developments Ltd can now progress towards the sale of the site.