An ecology site inspection led to a recommendation for a green roof which, in turn, will provide a range of sustainability measures.
Trish Holden, Syntegra’s Director of Ecology Services, carried out the survey for Highgate and Newtown Community Centre in north London to support a planning application and route 2 of Section 11, Land Use and Ecology under BREEAM New Construction 2018.
The proposals were to redevelop the site with the demolition or refurbishment of existing buildings and selective vegetation clearance.
She advised them to install a biodiverse roof with a range of native and wildlife friendly species, as compensation for the loss of foraging habitat for local birds, bats and invertebrates and said it would also have a significant net gain resulting in the maximum credits obtained under LE04- Change and enhancement of ecological value. The aim under LE4 is to enhance the ecological value of the site and areas within its zone of influence in support of local, regional and national priorities.
Under Route 2 of the New Construction, Section 11, Land Use and Ecology, the appointed ecologist must collaborate with the design team during the Concept Design in order to enhance the overall ecological value of the site. The ecologist will also make recommendations for limiting negative impacts and maximising the enhancement opportunities.
The site’s scheme included a loss of garden typical habitats including areas of scrub that provide potential foraging grounds for a range of urban species such as pipistrelle bats, house sparrow, swift, white admiral, double dart, and grey dagger. The use of green roofs (biodiverse roofs containing a wildflower and grass mixture rather than sedum mats) would be an overall positive impact as it would create additional foraging grounds for local birds, bats and invertebrate species.
Green roofs serve several other purposes for a building, such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation and associated energy efficiency, de-stressing people nearby by providing a more aesthetically pleasing landscape, helping to lower urban air temperatures, acting as a sound insulator thus reducing noise levels and lowering pollution.
The installation of the green roofs would also increase the ecological value and provide net gains to biodiversity in accordance with section 15 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (DfCLG, 2018) and Policy A3 of The Camden Local Plan.
The site contains private gardens, a listed London priority habitat, and the site meets the criteria for other important habitats: Built Structures. The main aims for private gardens are ‘to highlight and protect the overall resource for wildlife provided by private gardens in London. To improve individual private gardens as habitat for a range of local wildlife’. The main target for Built Structures is to encourage the provision of wildlife habitat to be incorporated into the urban and built environment through the planning system, and in particular the Local Development Frameworks. Policy A3 of the Camden Local Plan includes the following: ‘require the demolition and construction phase of development, including the movement of works vehicles, to be planned to avoid disturbance to habitats and species and ecologically sensitive areas, and the spread of invasive species and grant permission for development unless it would directly or indirectly result in the loss or harm to a designated nature conservation site or adversely affect the status or population of priority habitats and species’.