Are you protecting mature trees as far as possible, particularly in the Isaacs Lane area?
In 2018, Mid Sussex District Council granted planning permission for the redevelopment of the Northern Arc site (DM/18/5114), which sought to retain as many of the existing trees as possible. The Green Infrastructure Parameter Plan identifies areas of mature trees to be retained across the site. In the tender packs for potential developers, reference is provided to the parameter plan and to the Northern Arc Design Guide, section 9.5.2 which sets out principles to retain and manage habitats including mature trees.
As detailed in the parameter plan, all areas of ancient woodland habitat on the Northern Arc site will be retained, and ‘buffer zones’ around them will be kept free of development and planted with native woodland species to protect the habitat and support the project’s aim of achieving a 23% net gain in biodiversity (the amount and quality of natural habitat on site) post-development compared to beforehand.
The planting palette detailed in the Design Guide provides a wide range of tree and shrubs species which have different growing rates. This is to encourage a diverse maturity and height structure which helps to improve biodiversity, increase resilience to climate change and provide the visual depth needed to help integrate the development into the landscape. Incorporating various stock sizes also helps to create this diversity and supports the slower growth rate experienced by larger mature stock compared to transplants and whips.
Where possible, new roads at the Northern Arc have been designed and located to avoid removing vegetation and an Arboricultural Impact Assessment was prepared as part of the original Outline Planning Application. Whilst it is not possible to avoid the loss of any mature trees at all, each time a new developer comes on board and produces detailed design documents to submit for planning consent the impact on trees will continue to be considered.
The full planning application that has been approved for the Eastern Bridge and Link Road part of the Northern Arc (DM/19/3313) allows for tree removal where required and the tree clearance being undertaken (October 2020) is in accordance with this. Future landscaping for this part of the site will be submitted and agreed with Mid Sussex District Council.
Will there be an impact on the Bedelands Nature Reserve?
This falls outside of the application boundary therefore will not be affected by the development.
How will the project mitigate for the loss of green space and countryside?
The development includes a total of 82.05 hectares of strategic green infrastructure comprising ancient woodland, sports pitches, grassland, parks and gardens and designated play provision. Together with the meandering water courses, these existing features define the character of the new community and frame the development.
Tree planting was one of Countryside Properties first on-site activities, and they have continued to make tree planting a priority throughout the development. Homes England have committed to deliver 200,000 trees and plants across the Freeks Farm site. For every tree cut down, two will be planted.
The development includes a total of 82.05 hectares of strategic green infrastructure comprising ancient woodland, sports pitches, grassland, parks and gardens and designated play provision. Together with the meandering water courses, these existing features define the character of the new community and frame the development. Homes England will plant an estimated 200,000 new trees, shrubs and plants across the Northern Arc. Countryside Properties, the first developer on site, are planting two trees for each one that must be felled at their Freeks Farm site.
As well as making pleasant spaces for residents and visitors to enjoy, the network of green spaces throughout the Northern Arc will have the important positive impact of creating habitats for native British wildlife. The Northern Arc is required to deliver 10% biodiversity net gain across the site as part of the outline planning consent. Homes England have committed to providing a 23% net gain, 13% over the required standards. Biodiversity net gain is an approach to development that leaves nature in a better state after development than it was in before. All areas of ancient woodland on the site will be preserved, as well as areas that have also been identified to create new hedgerows, woodland, ponds and wildflower meadows, and the ecological condition of the River Adur will be improved.
What impact will the development have on local flood plains?
There will be no increased risk of downstream flooding as a result of the development. New natural drainage features or Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) will be incorporated within green spaces, outside of sensitive woodland and tree buffer zones to drain water from the public realm, provide visual interest, enhance the ecological value and increase biodiversity.
What are you doing to encourage sustainable development?
Creating an environmentally sustainable community touches on every aspect of the project. Key themes include reducing carbon in the construction of new homes, making them more thermally efficient and using electricity and other renewable energy sources such as solar panels and heat pumps. Reducing carbon from private car use includes supporting the transition to electric vehicles, but more fundamentally it’s about reducing peoples’ need to travel by car – by providing accessible neighbourhood centres and other facilities within walking distance of home and by making cycling and public transport more attractive ways to get around.
We are also using landscape and other natural design features to protect the community from the effects of climate change. For example, using trees and shrubs to provide shade and cooling during summer heat waves, or planting street trees to create a more comfortable environment for walking when it’s hot. Our plans also include a site-wide Sustainable Urban Drainage system to retain water after heavy rainfall and carefully manage its flow and discharge from the site to avoid downstream flooding.