Ramboll’s ecologists worked closely with a well-known London developer and their team to design and deliver a unique and sensitive brownfield development project adjacent to a protected wetland ecology park adjacent to the River Thames.
Since 2012, Ramboll has been working with our client on this comprehensive redevelopment of a 122 hectare brownfield site in east London known as Greenwich Millennium Village (GMV). We initially assisted with a hybrid planning application before developing flexible planning options as part of subsequent Section 73 applications, Reserved Matters Applications (RMA) and drop-in applications.
Delivering London developments
GMV is residential-led, mixed-use and multi-phased development, comprising 2,205 residential units in parcels of up to 20 storeys with retail, office and community space, energy centres, open and leisure space, landscaping, car parking and associated highway development.
Adjacent ecology park
The main ecological constraint on this project was the proximity of the Greenwich Peninsular Ecology Park, immediately adjacent to the proposed development. The ecology park contains a mixture of wetland habitats, lakes, woodland, wildflower meadow among others, and due to the ecological value of its habitats and the species it supported was assigned as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). The ecology park is also very popular with the local public and is used as an educational resource for local schools and interest groups.
Ramboll ecologists attended and presented at extensive meetings with the local planning authority and at public consultations to better understand the public’s concerns regarding the proposed development.
One of the main concerns raised by ecology park staff and local residents concerned the potential for the development to overshadow the ecology park and negatively affect its habitat. Working with overshadowing modelling specialists, Ramboll undertook an extensive and novel assessment and were able to demonstrate that with the proposed mitigation measure in place, negative effects as a result of overshadowing were unlikely.
Working in close consultation with ecology park staff as well as with landscape designers and multiple stakeholders including the ‘Friends of the Ecology Park’; Ramboll’s ecologists ensured that the development was optimised for biodiversity. Our goal was to cause as little impact as possible on the structure and functionality of the ecology park and instead use the development as an opportunity to enhance it. Following Ramboll’s input, the development will deliver a package of mitigation, compensation and enhancement which will lead to net-gain for biodiversity and ecological amenity value (education, psychological, well-being and more) as the ecological enhancements establish. The improvements will also facilitate further ecological enhancements to come with development of further plots on the Greenwich Peninsula.
One of the main ecological features to be delivered is an ecoswale, which would act an extension to the Ecology Park and essentially link it with GMV itself to create a cohesive site. This swale will feature wetland habitat in the form of reedbed as well as shingle areas, meadow and wet woodland.
In addition to a range of new landscape planting within the development, extensive biodiverse roofs (with photo voltaic panels) have been installed across the development to provide habitat unavoidably lost at ground level to the project. A range of roof types have been used, providing varying conditions for a diversity of species, including wildflower turf, brown roofs with rocky areas for basking and burrowing insects, and fern and woodland grass planting for shaded roofs. The design evolved over time for each new roof to provide biodiversity features including host plant species to support some of the rare invertebrates present in the ecology park.
Bringing people to nature
One of the issues that came out of public consultation was the need for a better, more fit-for-purpose visitor centre at the ecology park. Again working with ecology park staff, relevant stakeholders and the local planning authority, Ramboll worked with the client on the design and delivery of a new education and community building. This new building will be an exemplar of biophilic design.
The client gained all necessary permissions, and construction is ongoing.