Preston’s toads hop it to new home as they make way for giant estate

ON THE MOVE: A picture taken of a toad, by Peter Lucas
ON THE MOVE: A picture taken of a toad, by Peter Lucas
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Amphibians in Preston could be built a brand new Toad Hall, to make way for a giant housing estate on their land.

Toads living on land north of Eastway are set to be moved to the other side of the road, to make way for 300 houses, employment land and a “mixed use centre” on their native site.

AMPHIBIAN: A common female Toad

AMPHIBIAN: A common female Toad

A special fence is even proposed, to stop the amphibians trying to cross the busy road to return to their original ponds.

The plans, which are all subject to permission, have been lodged by the Homes and Communities Agency, after Preston Council said they must maintain an amphibian habitat and compensate for the impact on common toads, as a condition of the new estate.

The application is for environmental works including the creation of three new ponds and common toad habitats with landscaping on land south of Eastway.

If approved, the new habitat will be created this spring and will become the “receptor site” for common toads, which will be trapped on land north of Eastway in early 2016.

The developer of the site will then help the toads move home next spring.

A statement said: “The plan is focused on establishing and maintaining the favourable conservation status of a common toad (Bufo bufo) population within new habitats and enhanced existing habitats on land south of Eastway.

“Toads, toad tadpoles and toadspawn will be translocated to the area from the land north of Eastway.”

A total of 216 adult toads were counted at ponds at the development site in a survey last spring, which the statement said represented a sample of the “actively breeding section of the total population”.

It said: “Non-breeding, immature toads will not have been recorded during the survey, and the total toad population on the site could be two to three times this figure.

“The ponds with the highest recorded peak counts of toads will be retained within the development proposals (on the development site), but terrestrial habitats surrounding these ponds will be lost or will be isolated from the ponds by roads or housing. The creation of new off-site toad breeding, foraging and refuge habitat is required to compensate for the negative effects of the proposed development on common toad.”

A spokesman for the HCA said the site was part of the City Deal, and the organisation was “addressing development challenges” including the safeguarding of protected wildlife.

He said the ecological mitigation had to be done “to unlock the site for housing”, which had taken place “to bring forward a new development which will play a vital role in helping the City Deal to meet its ambitions”.