Conservation case study

    A Leading Architecture and Design Consultancy

    Key features Client: A Leading Architecture and Design Consultancy
    Site type: proposed Care Home development
    Site location: brownfield riverside location, River Ock, Berkshire
    Site challenges: Local Planning Authority and the Environment Agency raised concerns about the long-term management of the landscape and conservation features. They identified a need to improve the biodiversity of this section of the riverbank.


    What PBA did

    PBA Consulting prepared a Conservation Management Plan to improve riverside biodiversity. This covered the maintenance of the riverbank and buffer zone. The Plan included a site description, clear management objectives and strategy supported by a 5 to 10-year plan of operations.

    A riverside site with biodiversity potential

    This was a brownfield site with the River Ock running west to east along the southern boundary. Much of the land falls steeply to the river. The general ground flora of the riverbank included marginal indigenous plants such as nettles, thistles, docks, cleavers, burdock and bindweed. Alien weeds included Himalayan balsam. Mature trees included multi-stemmed sycamore, poplars and willows, and also sapling goat willow, elder and alder. The shrubby under-story included hazel, elder, dogwood and buddleia. The river corridor has high amenity and conservation value. Shade was the most limiting factor, particularly by the sycamore trees. Excessive leaf litter was contaminating both the river and soil.

    The vision for the river corridor

    The management objectives focused on a semi-natural river corridor within five metres of the water’s edge. The long-term objective was open sunny banks with marginal vegetation, crack willow pollards and hazel coppice requiring minimal intervention.

    Plan recommendations

    The management and biodiversity plan recommended a phased regeneration programme for the riverbank, over a 5-year period. This programme included:

    • removal of sycamore and buddleia
    • control of invasive weeds (especially Himalayan balsam)
    • pollarding the existing crack willows and re-coppicing
    • supplementing the existing vegetation with additional indigenous herbaceous species
    • installation of coir rolls (small deflectors) to slow the river current, encouraging silt deposition
    • grass mowing
    • formation of shelves to stimulate the growth of emergent vegetation
    • supplementary planting of amphibious bistort, greater pond sedge, reed sweet grass, yellow flag iris etc was also proposed

    Putting the plan into practice

    The Local Planning Authority accepted the management and biodiversity plan. PBA Consulting then drew up suitable contract documents to invite contractors to bid for the work. Special requirements were included covering Qualifications of Contract Labour and the use of Pesticides and Herbicides near waterways.


    Key client benefits

    • The client benefitted from the expert knowledge and experience of PBA
    • PBA liaised with the Local Planning Authority on the client’s behalf
    • PBA’s ability to produce appropriate biodiversity action plans – and the management regimes to put them into practice – gave the client the advantage of a fully integrated approach.

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