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Comment from a Contact - Stuart Pankhurst, Southern Ecological Solutions Ltd

September 2016 - Issue 85

Ecology and Development Site Acquisition

In this month’s guest contribution Stuart Pankhurst and his team at Southern Ecological Solutions identify some of the key considerations (from an ecological perspective) when seeking to maximising value from your development sites

Site Purchase and Promotion

The acquisition of land and its promotion for future development is often a complex and lengthy process. Once land is acquired or planning permission gained there is almost always an urgent need to progress with work on site to seek a return on a very often considerable investment.

There exists within planning departments a varying level of understanding in relation to ecology and the legislation and policy that surrounds it. Often overly onerous planning conditions and obligations are placed on land owners from the start, or conversely such obligations are only realised during planning consultations and can unfortunately raise potential issues once land or property has already been acquired.

Consider Constraints Early

It is important to consider ecological constraints when purchasing land or property that is to be developed or renovated. There are in most circumstances programmes of survey work required to deliver a scheme through the planning system. This can range from a simple walkover and report, to suites of species specific surveys undertaken over seasonal windows.

If identified early the costs of surveys and mitigation can in most circumstances be negotiated away as part of a land deal. Ecological constraints can almost always be overcome with a pragmatic approach and more often than not constraints can be turned into opportunities, bringing value to a site by, for example, delivering a sense of maturity within a site’s landscaping.

Ecological Due-diligence Survey

The take away message is that if considered early ecological constraints can be identified and instead of becoming a burden can instead add character and value to a site. The best way to do this is to engage an experienced ecological consultant or consultancy at the earliest opportunity. Ideally they will have experience in ecological survey and also on site implementation of mitigation.

Ask them to set out the potential ecological constraints; any seasonal windows for survey and mitigation; and importantly the likely costs. This report is normally referred to within our company as an “Ecological Due-Diligence Survey”, although this is not a standard report within our industry and may be referenced differently by other businesses. However, an experienced company will be able to provide the service needed to help maximise the value of your site and stay within the ecological legal and policy framework.


There is always a way forward from an ecological perspective, where value can be gained from the site’s green credentials, importantly differentiating your site from the rest. Early consideration of ecology makes the planning process run smoother and maximises the return on the investment you are making.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views or policy of Prettys LLP.

Stuart Pankhurst

Managing Director

T: 01268 711021


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