Guest Blog – The Sanctuary LNR, Derby by Richard Winspear on behalf of Derbyshire Ornithological Society


You have until January 12th to help us save The Sanctuary Local Nature Reserve (LNR) – which is also the first and only bird reserve in Derby.

A Planning Application went live over the Christmas period which will destroy and disturb a massive part of The Sanctuary Local Nature Reserve (LNR) at Pride Park in Derby.

We think THIS ISSUE CONCERNS ALL ENVIRONMENTALISTS, not just the people of Derby. So please support this cause. Its City Council could soon become the first Local Authority ever to choose to build on a significant part of its own Local Nature Reserve – against all its own policies and national planning policy guidance, too.

The planning application shows a mile-long Outdoor Cycle Race Circuit and Mountain Bike Skills area built on top of an open mosaic grassland habitat used by skylark, snipe, stonechat, meadow pipit, ring ouzel, and numerous other key bird species. It should have remained specially protected within this Bird Reserve, opened to great acclaim by the Secretary of State for the Environment in 2004, and was even home to a Dartford warbler for six weeks in 2005! It then won two environmental awards and was formally declared a LNR in 2006. But now British Cycling want to fund Derby Council to build a pay-to-race bike track, presumably with National Lottery cash, which is appalling. A nice idea perhaps, but in the wrong place.

Approval for this non-essential development could undermine the whole LNR network if other English council’s see   this as an acceptable course of action. A line has to be drawn; and it’s here!

So, a coalition of 15 environmental organisations has come together to oppose these plans. And we urge everyone concerned about losses to brownfield sites and the protection of the countrywide LNR network to lodge an objection.

Just visit:  where all the documents are stored, and you can object online there, too.

Simply click ‘Consultation’ then find ‘Neighbour/Member of Public Comment Form’ and enter your details. It’s always best to object using your own form of words. But the key issues we are likely to use in our own objections include:

1) Development on a declared LNR goes against the principles and purpose of Local Nature Reserves, as defined by Natural England.

2) Optional development on a Local Nature Reserve sets a national precedent, and threatens to undermine the entire LNR Network in England.

3) Development on a statutory Local Nature Reserve and Local Wildlife Site is contrary to policies in Derby Council’s Local Plan, its own Nature Conservation Strategy, and in its recently published ‘draft Core Strategy’.

4) Development goes against The Sanctuary ten year Management Plan, published by Derby Council in 2012.

5) The presence of an Outdoor Cycling Circuit is not critical to the success of the £27m velodrome, now under construction just outside the Bird Reserve and LNR.

6) The Planning Application shows prejudice by clear statements from British Cycling demonstrating it is only willing to fund the Outdoor Cycle Circuit if adjacent to the Pride Park Velodrome. Consideration of other all sites has been dismissed on these grounds.

7) Derby Council’s own  Environmental Impact Assessment (part 1) concludes the LNR IS OF “COUNTY-LEVEL IMPORTANCE”, and that development will have an adverse ecological effect on the LNR (para 5.4). No over-overriding need has been demonstrated which would make acceptable the destruction of a very significant portion of an LNR whose bird species are listed in Tables 3.1 to 3.6.

8) Whilst the Planning Application states an 18% loss of LNR area, the loss of key biodiversity habitat for ground-nesting and passage birds through damage and disturbance is around 40 to 50%. (Bear in mind one third of the site is already occupied by the raised grassy mound of a huge toxic waste repository, built before the LNR was declared.)

Even after the online consultation has closed, you can still send in objections by emailing ,  giving the planning application reference: 12/13/01465

If you have objected, or want more information, please let us know by contacting the coalition opposed to this proposal at Please share this as widely as you can amongst fellow environmentalists.

Richard Winspear
Conservation Officer of Derbyshire Ornithological Society

On behalf of:
Carsington Bird Club;
Darley & Nutwood LNR Management Group; Derby Natural History Society; Derby  RSPB Local Group Members; Derby Tree Warden Network; Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group; Derbyshire Bat Group; Derbyshire Mammal Group; Derbyshire Ornithological Society; Derbyshire Wildlife Trust; Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire Entomological Society; East Midlands Region RSPB; Friends of Sinfin Moor Park LNR; Pleasley Pit Nature Study Group; Wessington Green LNR Management Group.


Note: We can supply a Natural England EIR response to back up our claim of a national precedent being set by LNR development.


19 Replies to “Guest Blog – The Sanctuary LNR, Derby by Richard Winspear on behalf of Derbyshire Ornithological Society”

  1. I notice the land is next to Pride park where 25000 objectors are found every other week. How have you got them involved and should some body be approaching the London firm of planners which seems to state, no local firm would take on the job and blackening their name!

  2. I have never visited the Sanctuary LNR but from the description it is a fine site with a rich variety of bird life and I would guess that the open mosaic grassland referred to is also rich in invertebrates. The idea that this should be built over is yet another example of the environmental vandalism that is currently so prevalent; the site, by definition, is one of the best examples of natural habitat within the Local Authority area and its loss (or the loss of a significant part of it) will impoverish the wildlife of Derby and its surroundings.
    Wildlife is suffering death by a thousand cuts – every decision to build over an an area of wildlife habitat, to rip out a length of hedgerow or to drain a damp corner of a field may seem insignificant by itself but each one removes a little bit more and we run the risk of ending up with a few isolated ‘island’ sites where nature is allowed to cling on, surrounded by a biodiversity desert. Given that Natural England appears to believe that National Nature Reserves are best used as public recreation sites the prospects for wildlife look very gloomy indeed.
    I hope that Richard’s plea for support receives the response it deserves and that as a result the planners in Derby see sense before it is too late.

  3. I’m amazed the various players in this stupid application aren’t worried about their reputation – Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners, the London planning consultancy boasting it is RTPI ‘Planning consultancy of the Year’. Surely the lottery fund (no doubt sports, not heritage) doesn’t want to be labelled as wildlife destroyers ? Nor for that matter cycling – maybe these track cyclists are different to mountain bikers, but the MB crowd have done a good job, especially with the Forestry Commission, in avoiding conflict with other interests by responsibility and good planning – in stark contrast to North America where conflict between mountain bikers and birders & walkers is a defining outdoor access issue.

    All concerned need to stop and think – if they believe this will go away once they’ve got permission and built it, I’d suggest they think again – too many companies, interests and organisations believe Government permission gives them top cover – they need to think again and realise the mud will stick to them, planning permission or not. And that the application was submitted over Christmas suggests very strongly they know what they are doing is dodgy – I can almost picture the strategy meeting at which the consultants gave the advice to do it when everyone was busy with something else – ‘at the very least you’ll knock two or three weeks off the time the protestors have to get organised’.

  4. Too right Jonathan. The fact that any “development” is not discouraged by the letters LNR is a sad reminder of the huge fight ahead. As a London resident I’ll be checking out this company

  5. I’ve sent an objection other than that I think between them Jonathan and Roderick have said it all.

  6. Well one good thing that stands out from this sorry tale is how relatively quick and easy it is to turn a toxic gas works and landfill site liability into a public asset. They should be doing that at the much larger site on the other bank of the Derwent, which possibly has a similar history and certainly once had a large lagoon within it. But to do that the proposed commercial developments would have to be scuppered

  7. Let’s hope that the campaign to save this local nature reserve from development is successful ,that the short sighted decision is reversed.For me personally ,losing skylarks at yet another site is pretty much a disaster.

    1. David – welcome and thank you for making your views known. If we all do that, it is bound to make a difference.

  8. It’s not just the tracks for cycling, it’s hours of opening 8.00 -22.00 every day, with lights. Then there’s spectators on a ” Henman Hill ” with a bird-hide stuck on top , as if there’ll be much in the way of birds left . There won’t be much left of amphibians either once the bikes have squished all the migrating frogs and toads. So , first officialdom has used our money to create a nature reserve, then more is used to destroy it. That’s what Derby cares for wildlife Regeneration = tarmac ,as usual.

  9. Thanks Sandra, I quite agree.
    Even though the council is proposing (by way of mitigation) to put tunnels under the track to allow amphibians to pass, the fenced track will create a significant barrier between the remaining riverside vegetation and the remaining LNR grassland. And as you say, the lights will undoubtedly have an adverse effect on birds, bats, moths and amphibians too.

  10. Thanks to many people (over 300 to date) the objectors now outnumber the supporters for this planning enquiry – so that’s good – but not good enough since the supporters/cyclists will redouble their efforts now. If you can object (and it only takes a minute) please do so. The online form is active until end of play on THIS THURSDAY 16th – see Richard Winspear’s guest blog on 7th for details of how to do this.
    Many thanks,

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