Flood Channel Habitat Creation and Management
REC Ltd undertook an ecological assessment in order to inform the design and management of a flood plain located off Dumers Lane in Radcliffe.
The site, on the banks of River Irwell, has lain vacant for nearly a decade since the 2005 closure of the world famous Hall’s cough sweet factory. It was widely dominated by invasive, non-native flora.
REC was commissioned by developers Property Alliance Group, who have invested £28 million into the mixed use development scheme on the site, which will ultimately boost the local economy.
The developers have since secured planning permission to demolish the existing dilapidated and severely vandalised buildings and remediate the site to facilitate 258 high-quality residential units, industrial space, and office accommodation.
A significant part of the scheme was to create a widened river corridor and flood channel to carry return floodwaters, as well as to establish a ‘wildlife corridor’ to enhance the sites biodiversity. It will also provide a significant area of recreation and amenity for the new residents.
The new corridor comprises of three main habitats:
- A species rich grassland mosaic, including wet grassland on the river bank, wetland meadow on the rivers floodplain and dry meadow elsewhere.
- A shingle and tussocky grassland beach.
- A species rich hedgerow and tree line.
The new habitats target a range of endangered ground nesting birds such as the Little Ringed Plover, Northern Lapwing and Skylark, as well as mammals such as bats, otters and badgers and a range of invertebrates. In addition to this, species specific habitat creation included the creation of an otter holt, a Sandmartin and Kingfisher wall and the provision of bird and bat boxes. Landscaping has accommodated a marked footpath between two access ramps. The path has been designed to be part of the landscape yet routed to avoid ecologically sensitive areas.
Information boards have also been provided to inform the public about the wildlife present, and the requirement to respect the needs of vulnerable species.
Ecological Consultancy Aftercare
Upon completion, an aftercare management plan of five years will be implemented to ensure the establishment of the new habitats. A monitoring programme will also determine the extent of management required beyond this point.
Designed by REC, this area will now foster the growth of important ecological significance. This will in turn enhance the amenity value of the site, promote recreational use for local residents, and gives canoeists and anglers access to the river. In addition, the creation of a Public Open Space will provide many benefits for the wider community as well as ultimately helping the local authorities and Greater Manchester meet their natural environment targets.