Builders create ades-res for newts

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Who lives in a house like this? A family of rare newts are getting ready to move into their new purpose-built home.

Housebuilder Story Homes was granted planning permission for a development of 283 homes at the Cottam Hall site earlier this year and, as part of the approval, the company agreed to ensure the newts were looked after.

HAPPY: Rob Wreglesworth of Eco Green with Story Homes Graduate Planner Martin Nugent

HAPPY: Rob Wreglesworth of Eco Green with Story Homes Graduate Planner Martin Nugent

Now two new ponds have been specially created and landscaped for the newt colony on a nearby site, with logs and foliage brought in to create an ideal habitat for them.

Specialist ecologists and Story Homes staff are now working on the site from 4am every morning, moving each newt individually into their new abode.

Story Homes’ graduate planner Martin Nugent said: “The process has taken several months because we have had to wait for the soil to be damp and warm enough for the newts to come out, and get our whole approach approved by Natural England.

“The new home will be a safe spot, providing a habitat for them to forage for insects and grubs and hibernate in winter. Once the relocation work is finished, we will start the preparations on site.”

The relocation, which is being carried out by specialist ecologists, is expected to take several weeks.

Great crested newts are the largest species of newt in Britain and are protected by law. Their numbers have declined in the UK over recent years, due to the destruction and pollution of their breeding sites and terrestrial habitat.

Located to the south of Cottam Way and north of the Lancaster Canal, the development is the company’s first in scheme in Preston. It will be known as Waterside as it overlooks the canal.

At Cottam there will be a new park, multi-use games area and the creation of amenity space. A sum of £328,000 is also being contributed towards the improvement and joining up of the southern side of the Lancaster Canal towpath.

Cottam Hall is the third of 11 development sites owned by the Homes and Communities Agency which are being developed as part of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal. The City Deal was agreed between Preston City Council, South Ribble Borough Council and Lancashire County Council, along with central government and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).