The St Osyth Priory Development Offers First Dwellings For Sale. Baker Consultants helped City & Country through a public inquiry.

The Sargeant Family acquired St Osyth Priory in 1999 with the aim of bringing this property into reuse, functioning as a working Estate once more.  The main property on this site dates back to 1120, when the priory was first founded and was home to the Austin Canons for over 80 years, later becoming an Abbey until its dissolution in 1553.

With such long history, it is an important historic site.  It is also a site that has ancient trees that date back to the mid-16th Century and a natural environment with valuable habitats and protected species.   The redevelopment plans for the property therefore had to be approached with high levels of sensitivity and care whilst also taking steps to reduce the property’s Conservation Deficit, valued at £39 million at the outset. By the end of 2018, the Conservation Deficit was forecasted to have reduced to £18 million.

Baker Consultants was drafted in during 2014 initially, to help the developers, City & Country through a public inquiry for the St Osyth Priory development.

In 2015, this first public inquiry was allowed, enabling the Estate to press ahead with its redevelopment and restoration plans. Work commenced in 2016 and a second public inquiry was also commenced.

Baker Consultants provided ecological input to the Public Inquiry and Appeals for this site, addressing the potential impacts of the scheme and recommending mitigation measures that would allow the development proposals to be sustainably delivered. This enabled vital restoration works on the historic group of 16 listed Priory buildings.

Protected species, valuable habitats and a Local Wildlife Site were protected, and potential effects on the Colne Estuary Special Protection Area, and Essex Estuaries Special Area of Conservation, were avoided.

Proposed plans to the St Osyth Priory site in 2017. We consulted on the whole plan, but the main areas of ecological interest were the Colne Estuary to the northwest, and the area of lakes and woodland in the centre and north of the parkland.

Proposed plans to the St Osyth Priory site in 2017. We consulted on the whole plan, but the main areas of ecological interest were the Colne Estuary to the northwest, and the area of lakes and woodland in the centre and north of the parkland.

To help with attracting grant funding for the restoration costs of the site, the St Osyth Priory & Parish Trust was formed in 2016, with Trustees that include Helen Moore of City & Country, Tim Sargeant representing the family, and George Clarke, presenter of Restoration Man on Channel 4.

The dwellings on this site have now been offered for sale, and here Trustee George Clark gives a tour of this beautiful complex that has been redeveloped sensitively to its traditional building style as well as sensitively for the biodiversity interest of the site.

If you need help with your site at any point in the planning phase, then please  get in touch with us via our contact form on the website, call us on +44 (0)1629 593958 or email us on info@bakerconsultants.co.uk.

Innovation in Bird Bioacoustics saves manpower and cuts costs for surveying target species

Earlier in the year Baker Consultants published a paper in the Elsevier Ecological Indicators journal on “Combining bioacoustics and occupancy modelling for improved monitoring of rare breeding bird populations”.

This innovative piece of research work has caused some excitement in ecology circles and is one that opens up new possibilities when it comes to species monitoring using technology and data analysis skills.  Funded by Natural England, the research was carried out by Baker Consultants’ Technical Director Carlos Abrahams, and published in a high quality peer reviewed journal.  Carlos’ expertise in sound recording and data analysis drove this piece of work, following his previous studies on capercaillie in Scotland. One of the key elements of the paper was the ability to combine the acoustic recordings of target species at a range of locations, with GIS and satellite remote sensing data of the habitats present at each site.  This allowed the environmental factors that determine species presence and detectability to be assessed.

We’re really excited by the outcomes of this research, as it makes acoustic survey methods much more viable for landowners, developers and estate managers.  Traditional surveying techniques ordinarily rely on huge manpower efforts to regularly visit sites to observe and record target species.  With the techniques developed by Carlos, we’re able to monitor the species by gathering larger data sets over longer time-frames, while reducing the manpower costs of data collection.  Survey by acoustic recording is also more effective at producing a robust and defensible dataset, as it can be subject to quality assurance processes and the raw data can be stored permanently.

We are continuing to carry out ecological consultancy during the Covid19 lockdown. If you have any surveying or monitoring needs during this period, then please  get in touch with us via our  contact form on the website, call us on +44 (0)1629 593958 or email us on info@bakerconsultants.co.uk.

At Baker Consultants, we are delighted to have been shortlisted for two prestigious national CIEEM Awards– we are the only ecology consultancy in The Midlands to reach the final stages for the Small Consultancy of the Year award.

Although we are now all home-based whilst the nation responds to Covid19, we are normally based at the refurbished railway station building at Cromford Bridge where our specialist team of highly qualified ecologists has built a reputation as an industry leader at the forefront of research, innovation and emerging policies in the sector.

Baker Consultants have been shortlisted for two prestigious national CIEEM awards

It’s an honour to have been recognised by The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environment Management (CIEEM), and shortlisted for the Small Consultancy of the Year award and also for the Best Practice Innovation Award for our pioneering work with Heathland Birds Bioacoustic Monitoring Research – a joint project with Natural England and the first of its type in Europe.

CIEEM is the professional membership body representing and supporting ecologists and environmental managers in the UK, Ireland and abroad with an aim to transform understanding of, and attitudes towards, protecting and enhancing the natural environment.

Its national awards celebrate the outstanding work of organisations and individuals working within the ecological and environmental sectors.

Managing Director, Andrew Baker said of the awards, “The team has worked incredibly hard over the last year and brought their ideas, their research and their specialist training to apply innovative, and in some cases ground-breaking, solutions to meet clients’ needs.

“Our clients include charitable organisations and local authorities alongside large infrastructure and housing developers. At any one time we have over 250 active projects and each is approached with the same robust scientific determination to secure outcomes as well as furthering conservation and promoting biodiversity.

“To go to London in October and come home with industry recognition for how we deliver what we do will be hugely significant for us as a business and as a team. We have won awards in the past it is great for the team to be rewarded for a job well done.  This year has been particularly productive and we felt strongly about putting ourselves forward for what we have achieved as a business and the projects we had been involved with.”

Winners of all categories will be announced at the annual CIEEM Awards luncheon, which has been rescheduled to a later date than planned, in October this year.

Get in touch with our team via our contact form on the website, call us on +44 (0)1629 593958 or email us on info@bakerconsultants.co.uk.

Baker Consultants’ Technical Director Carlos Abrahams is leading a webinar in association with the Institute of Acoustics and UK Acoustics Network on 13 May from 2pm.  The session will take delegates through the use of bioacoustics for field survey covering a wide range of species groups including birds, mammals, amphibians and invertebrates.

Baker Consultants’ Technical Director Carlos Abrahams is leading a webinar on the use of bioacoustics for field survey in association with the UK Acoustics Network on 13 May from 2pm.

If you would like to know more about how bioacoustic recording can provide a cost effective, highly robust method for gathering ecological data, register for this free session at the link below:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/using-bioacoustics-for-field-survey-carlos-abrahams-tickets-104430179478

If you need advice on surveys for land management, planning or development, then please  get in touch with us via our contact form on the website, or you can call us on +44 (0)1629 593958 or email us on info@bakerconsultants.co.uk.