The transformation of a derelict industrial site into a haven for protected species and the community
Take a wonder through our Heathlands development in Buckley, North Wales today and you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s always been this way.
The 300 home development completed in 2018 is nestled within the beautiful surroundings of a nature reserve and natural open spaces complete with 45 wildlife ponds.
But amazingly, much of this landscape is newly-created as part of the new development which is on the site of an old derelict clay-pit and brickworks. If you took a walk here before the new development you would have seen an abandoned, unsafe industrial site which contained a huge steep-sided deep lagoon and surrounding ‘moonscape’.
The design of the new development sought to provide much needed local housing, remediate the derelict site, deliver measurable ecological benefits, and create natural spaces for the whole community to enjoy. The resulting new community showcases how new housing developments can be achieved at the same time as improving the environment and providing gains for wildlife.
Before the development, Great Crested Newts, which are a protected species, were using the deep lagoon and these had to be temporarily moved and protected while the works took place. The ambitious scheme then filled-in the lagoon, re-vegetated the moonscape surrounds and converted the site into a multi-pond nature reserve and public open space for the community to enjoy.
One of the key features of the project was to ensure the long-term legacy of the site for wildlife, so extensive management and monitoring arrangements were introduced. Monitoring of the Great Crested Newt population has revealed that although the population was in decline before the development, newt numbers in the newly created ponds tripled between 2017 and 2018, helping reverse their decline in this area.
But this beautiful new nature reserve doesn’t just provide a home for newts – countless other species of wildlife have also moved in – and it also offers a focal space for the residents and local community to enjoy. The development also funded a warden employed by local wildlife charity Wild Ground, and a new warden’s base – ‘the Bug Shack’ – complete with its green roof. Here, a series of education and volunteering events are held to help local schools and the community find out more and help to look after this special place.
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