SITE ENHANCEMENT STRATEGY
Working alongside the ecological experts, a long term strategy is proposed for the site, balancing long term natural ecological enhancements with a few implemented measures to help support the site and significantly enhance biodiversity. The ecological survey reported that there were a number of priority habitats located within 2kms of the site including include Coastal and Floodplain Grazing Marsh, Good Quality Semi-Improved Grassland, Lowland Fens, Lowland Meadows, Deciduous Woodland and Traditional Orchards. The closest of which, is Good Quality Semi-Improved Grassland located approximately 300m southeast of the site. The site enhancement strategy looks at drawing on a number of the features found within the priority habitats.
“Taking a step away from the science, this project also has a very gentle touch and should be commended for its approach to ecological enhancements both in the wider site limits, but also in consideration of the building itself. In addition, the team have worked hard to find a foundation and retaining wall system which will give more habitats back to the site, rather than the norm of standard concrete foundations which simply take habitats away.”
Proposed Natural Enhancements
The Preliminary Ecological Survey of the site and concluded the following: ‘The findings of the assessment are that the habitats on the site are of moderate ecological value and that there are no significant ecological constraints that would prevent the proposed works.’ With this in mind, the proposal includes features in the landscape that will
encourage increase the biodiversity, significantly enhancing the setting. Further enhancements include bird and bat boxes, the creation of log piles
and a hibernacular(s) and the creation of a pond areas.
Fruit trees to the north of the site to create and reinforce natural buffer zones around site. This will also create nesting and roosting areas for birds and bats as well as a sheltered areas beneath for invertebrates.
Species Rich Grassland – Allowing the site to natural regenerate with very light touch management. Plants within a landscaping scheme would be of benefit to invertebrates and species further up the food chain, such as birds, bats and if present, great crested newts and other reptiles and amphibians.
Enhanced and additional hedgerow planting – Managing and improving the existing perimeter hedgerow creates an
incredibly rich habitat for both flora and fauna, acting as connecting routes for small mammals, birds and bats. The
hedgerows will also assist in buffering the site from the lane
allowing the proposal to be more discreet in the landscape.
Reinstating and old pond and creating new wet habitat allowing for a rich mixture of aquatic wildlife, plants, invertebrates, birds and mammals. It also provides a vital source of clean freshwater as well as a refuge for
over two thirds of Britain’s rarest freshwater wetland invertebrates. They also act as stepping stones, allowing species to move through the landscape.
“…the plan is to take some of the sediments from the Ghost Pond, as it is being restored, and to place this in the new ponds to help seed them with local plants. This is innovative stuff.”
Norfolk Ponds Project
When researching the history of the site and local area, it was found that there was once pond located in the north west corner of the site – as highlighted on the map opposite. Sadly, over the course of time this pond, like many in Norfolk, was filled in as agricultural practices modernised.
Historically these were known to be Marl pits, used to extract mineral rich soils to help enrich crop soils. Surviving Marl pits provide valuable habitats for a multitude of different plant and animal species as well as an historic Feature that once characterised Norfolk.
Restoring the ‘Ghost Pond’ will contribute to significantly enhancing the immediate setting as well as creating a landscape feature that is sensitive to the defining characteristics of the area. The ponds (and additional ponds proposed) will also support a wider mission by the Norfolk Ponds Project which is aiming to reverse the decline of Norfolk’s ponds.
Quoting ‘Norfolk Ponds Project – Restoring Norfolk’s Ponds’;
“Norfolk has more ponds than any other English county with over 23,000 ponds present. These include farm ponds, village ponds, moats, medieval fish ponds and ancient pingo ponds.
Over the last 50 years, many Norfolk ponds have suffered neglect or even been filled in, often as a result of changes in farming practices. Today our ponds are threatened by the widespread encroachment of trees and bushes, pollution and invasive species.
Professor Carl Sayer (UCL) co-founded the Norfolk Ponds Project and has played a direct role in developing a suitable approach to the landscape and enhancement proposal for Cork Oak House alongside Greenlight Ecology.”
East of England Apples and Orchards Project
The proposed enhancements also include a cluster of orchard trees located to the north of the site. The proposed planting will be done in accordance with and with guidance from the EEAOP (East of England Apples and Orchard Project), based near Fakenham, Norfolk.
They promote the planting of local orchard fruit varieties and the preservation of orchards in the east of England. The regions heritage includes around 270 varieties of apple, pear, plum and cherry and their orchard habitat.
Orchards, if treated and managed in the correct way offer a rich habitat. Traditional orchards are classes as a priority UK Biodiversity Habitat. By planting and lightly managing the proposed orchard, it encourage a species rich biodiversity.
The EEAOP considers more lightly managed traditional types of orchard as the best in terms of biodiversity. Widely spaced and longer-lived trees on half standard or standard root-stocks grow in unimproved grassland
and contain a range of fruit species and varieties.
According the EEAOP a few key principles should be adhered to when planting and looking after an orchard:
It is considered that the addition of an orchard area will contribute to significantly enhancing the immediate setting both visually and in terms of the biodiversity found on the site.
10 Year Site Strategy
The ambitions for the site are spread over a number of years to allow for natural generation of habitats. Including species rich grassland, and increase in tree growth on the boundaries of the site.