Work on Preston nature reserve to start in 2012

The developer behind an £80m regeneration project on the site of the former Cottam Hall Brickworks site in Preston anticipates work on an additional nature reserve to start next year.

Cottam Hall Properties was granted planning approval from Preston City Council in July for a derelict 28-acre site to be redeveloped after submitting revised plans.

Proposals include a Tesco store of 47,000 sq ft, 155 apartments overlooking a marina, 17 three-storey townhouses, and 20 two-storey family homes. There is also a business park of 45,060 sq ft and ancillary restaurants and shops planned.

The site already includes a nature reserve but the developer will be creating an additional site in the Fishwick area of the city after the Environment Agency had reservations over plans for the former Cottam Hall Brickworks site.

The developer, which is a joint venture between John Clarke, managing director of John Turner & Sons, and Ian Rankin, former chairman of John Turner, had to purchase a further 19 acres offsite and obtain planning permission for an offsite reserve on a derelict sports ground before progressing its main application.

The planned "biodiversity site" will be created from flat grassland of limited ecological value and will be turned into a nature reserve that will include specially designed habitats including six new ponds.

Cottam Hall Properties said the sports ground, which hasn't been used for over seven years, has been subject to flooding and on occasion has been blighted by anti-social behaviour.

Ian Rankin, chairman of Cottam Hall Properties, said: "In a £100,000 civil engineering and landscaping project, the flat grassland will be transformed into an undulating nature reserve with a rich variety of species and habitats. Its proximity to the River Ribble will permit the creation of marshland, wet woodland and permanent ponds besides the assorted grasses and shrubs supported on the higher land.

"We anticipate getting started on this site in 2012 when all the formalities are completed for the Brickworks site, and weather conditions become favourable."

As well as saving valuable species, the developer said the site will be available for ecological education and research.

Plans for the former Cottam Hall Brickworks site is being presented to Government Office North West for further review and subject to scrutiny by the Department of Communities and Local Government.

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