14 Apr, 2022

RammSanderson, working alongside Clowes Developments Ltd have led a successful translocation of the rare plant Common Broomrape (Orobanche minor) from the former Friar Gate station and rail yard in the centre of Derby, as the first step towards the regeneration of this area of the City Centre.

The plant has very specific habitat requirements and is only found in a handful of locations across Derbyshire. It lacks chlorophyll, which gives many plants their green leaf colour and also provides them the means of turning sunlight, plus water and nutrients from the soil, into energy to fuel them to grow. Instead, this plant is parasitic and feeds off the roots of its ‘host’ plants to survive.

Clowes Developments Ltd, owner of the Friar Gate site consulted RammSanderson with regards to ecology early on when proposals began to take shape to assess and make safe the fire-damaged Friar Gate site. In doing so, the site was identified as containing the rare Broomrape plant.  The work to inspect the buildings, by the design team (Architects: Maber, Engineers: Jackson Purdue & Lever) is being carried out by Derby firm Cawarden and to complete this safely, large, specialist access cranes will be brought onto site.  For that to happen a haul road needed to be built on-site and the rare plants were exactly where the haul road needed to be installed.

For that reason, we acted quickly to find new homes for the plants and move them before work on site commenced.

Spearheaded by director Oliver Ramm, the company engaged with a cross-party stakeholder group including Clowes Developments Ltd, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Severn Trent Water to secure receptor sites for over 30 of these plants.

“Through early engagement with the whole project team, to understand the needs of our client and through stakeholder liaison we’ve been able to identify the issue and use our initiative to provide the opportunity for the long-term survival and spread of these plants at several locations across Derby and Derbyshire, which is a fantastic achievement.”

The approach taken involved reviewing a number of possible receptor locations across Derbyshire, then selecting the most appropriate sites. The plants were then translocated and the nominated receptor sites are on land owned and operated by Severn Trent Water, for whom RammSanderson are a framework consultant, and so have an excellent working relationship.  The plants will be monitored and managed by RammSanderson’s Habitat management team with liaison via Severn Trent and funds secured from Clowes Developments Ltd to ensure their continued success.

Oliver also added, “Because the inspection and stabilisation work to the Bonded Warehouse and Engine Shed only needed Listed Building Consent, the City Council didn’t need to consult on ecological matters as with a normal planning application. The client was under no legal or planning obligation to do the translocation, but being a responsible developer, Clowes gave us the freedom to act on their behalf and ensure these rare plants were removed from harms way. My thanks go to Clowes and their Design Team; everyone involved at Severn Trent Water who’ve been fantastic in letting us move these plants onto their land; to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust for their involvement and collaboration; and to my team who’ve worked very hard to make sure this all happened before the work on-site commenced. We’ll now be monitoring the plants in their new homes for the next five years to make sure the plan has worked.”