Friday, May 28, 2004

Peterborough's Hampton 'development'

To the south of Peterborough city centre, there used to be an important Great Crested Newt colony, and unique ridge-and-furrow habitat (created by the clay extraction for the local brick industry) which was important for insect and plants. Now, much of it is being 'developed' to accommodate Peterborough's share of the hundreds of thousands of new houses that Britain will be building (somewhere) over the coming decades.

Yes, Hampton is here. It really irks me that the land being developed is always referred to as "derelict brickworks" - as if there's nothing of any worth there. There seems to be a presumption that brownfield land cannot be of any worth to wildlife, which is incorrect. There was an excellent feature in the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough's recent newsletter which explained exactly why Hampton is a terrible example of insensitive development (I hope to quote some bits from it here in future - when I find my copy).

In the Peterborough Evening Telegraph on Wednesday, there was an article about the latest round of development at Hampton which has just been approved by the city council. That prompted me to look at Hampton's official website, which was quite illuminating.

Looking at 'The Masterplan', you can see just how committed the developers are to wildlife and the environment by the amount of land they have designated a nature reserve. A tiny fragment of land, compared to the vast swathes of housing, industry and 'open space' (what does that mean - manicured, landscapes Teletubbyland?) they have allocated space for. The website talks about how 9% of the area will be a nature reserve - is that like Crown Lakes Country Park at Farcet, where native vegetation had to make way for aesthetically-pleasing, alien planting? [Waxwings seem to like it, though]

Still, at least Hampton will be good if you like to see Canada Geese...

In the ET's piece yesterday, Roger Tallowin, director and general manager of O + H Hampton (the developers) "promised the relentless increase in housing – the firm is currently aiming to see 500 built each year – will not overshadow its environmental principles.

"He said: "We are maintaining the concept of having plenty of green areas. "It is very much a green project – both figuratively and literally.""

I remain to be convinced.

What's in my CD player: The Sleepy Jackson - The Sleepy Jackson

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