GES were excited to be commissioned by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to consult on ecological factors to aid in the large-scale restoration project at Grosvenor and Hilbert Park. The council were successful in gaining £2.36million from the Heritage and Big Lottery Funds towards the project in 2014.
During the preliminary ecological survey in 2013 the surveys revealed that the park supports a diversity of habitats including formal parkland, open grassland, woodland, and waterbodies/wetland areas. Collectively these habitats support at least six species of foraging/commuting bat as well as a common pipistrelle roost which was found within a tree. Suitable habitat for reptiles and amphibians were also found and subsequent further surveys were deemed necessary for these species.
Common frog, smooth newt and palmate newt as well as a diversity of aquatic invertebrate species were found in some of the waterbodies. No reptiles were confirmed to be present although the public nature of the park resulted in many of the artificial refugia being removed and it was recommended that the results be taken with caution.
We worked closely with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council throughout the scheme to produce a Mitigation Strategy to ensure that the works were undertaken in a manner that was sensitive to the ecological interest of the park. We also provided advice throughout the duration of the project and implemented elements of the Mitigation Strategy.
In addition, retention of the invertebrate and micro-organism diversity was achieved by sweep netting the wetland area prior to the start of the construction works and temporarily re-locating captured invertebrates into a holding tank.
This was an exciting project due to its nature, diversity and public green space factor and we worked closely with the appointed architects to incorporate ecological enhancements into the design of the restored park to improve the overall long-term value of Grosvenor Hilbert Park for wildlife. The restoration works within the park are now complete and we are pleased that it is a thriving area for visitors and the community to enjoy.