A Waitrose near you – if you live in Malmesbury

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I’ve been doing a few bits of work for a consultancy which, in turn, is advising the John Lewis Partnership (which includes my local Waitrose), on how to make their business, and particularly their supermarket sites, better for wildlife. My role is to be an external challenge to the thinking – and that’s one I’m very happy with. We’ll have to see how it goes.

Malmesbury main street. Photo: Arpingstone via wikimedia commons.
Malmesbury main street. Photo: Arpingstone via wikimedia commons.

Back in December this role took me down to Malmesbury and the site for a new supermarket – which will be a Waitrose on the edge of town.  It’s a long way down the line as the plan is for it to open in August – but it was a bare muddy field when a group of us stood there in our high-vis jackets and hard hats looking, and in my case feeling, more than a little ridiculous.

It’s a field right on the edge of Malmesbury and the attractive town of Malmesbury looks very pretty from the site of the supermarket – I have some sympathy for local residents who think that the supermarket may look less attractive from the town, which is why I asked whether a ‘green roof’ had been considered. There was a bit of shuffling and looking at the ground as it seems it was thought about but on a variety of grounds had not been progressed.  Oh well!

The site is on the edge of town, with roads along the eastern and southern edges, housing to the west and another field to the north.  The hedges weren’t bad, but nor were they in any way special. This was ‘just an ordinary arable field’ – but it is to become ‘just a supermarket’ this summer.

A Fieldfare looked quizzically at us from the top of a tree as a group of builders, ecologists, arboriculturists and I walked around the site trying to imagine where the store itself would be, where the car park would end and where was the ground available for some biodiversity work. 

By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Wetland Flower Meadow  Uploaded by tm) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Wetland Flower Meadow Uploaded by tm) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Our conversation over lunch was trying to assess the possibility of establishing a small wildlife-rich meadow on the western edge of the site, next to the houses.  This sloping area is useless for car parking and could provide the main wildlife benefit of the development.  A couple of us thought that its arable past would mean that its nutrient status would be pretty difficult to bring down to a level where interesting plants could be established but that was an option to examine.  Access to this area would be pretty limited once the site was established as a supermarket too, so a meadow option, though attractive in theory, looked unlikely in practice.

Work involving ditches and hedges, including cutting them back, should be done as soon as possible we said – to avoid the bird breeding season.

There was scope for nest-boxes for House Sparrows in one corner of the built development where there would be limited traffic and less disturbance, we thought.

Bruno Liljefors, Common Swifts, 1886, via wikimedia commons
Bruno Liljefors, Common Swifts, 1886, via wikimedia commons

Would a Swift tower work here – that would be quite a novel and attractive feature if it were successful? Worth trying?

And a rockery is planned on the north-facing slope, at the back of the store – which plants would fit in there?

We grappled with the possibilities, wished we had a bit more knowledge of the site, wished we had a bit more time to think about options and wished we could spend a fortune. But this was the real world. And in the real world this seems like a very ordinary arable field, which was maize last year, with very little known or expected wildlife interest, which might, with a bit of luck, even be better for wildlife when most of it is covered by a supermarket and its car park than when it was farmed. 

Now, over a month after the meeting the work on hedgerows etc is going ahead to avoid the bird breeding season.  The flower-rich meadow looks like it will be a mixture of scrub (an excellent habitat for wildlife) and tussock grass.  House Sparrow nesting sites are built into the plan and a Swift tower is thought to be a viable option after discussions with experts (and checking that Malmesbury has a few nesting pairs of Swifts).  A bit of tweaking to the plans has ensured a better range of native species to be planted in the car park and used in the rockery. 

waitroseIf all of this is successful it won’t put Malmesbury Waitrose on my list of Wiltshire biodiversity hot-spots – but if the Swift tower comes to pass, and works, then it will certainly be worth a look in the summer months. I’m impressed by the amount of effort that has gone into trying to make the site into one that puts something back for wildlife – Waitrose didn’t have to do any of this.  I’ll keep you updated with progress – or lack of it.

And you have to wonder, or at least I do, whether biodiversity off-setting would have any role to play here at all.  I may come back to that.

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47 Replies to “A Waitrose near you – if you live in Malmesbury”

  1. Mark, it's pleasing that a company should be this thorough in asking for wildlife advice. Perhaps there's hope yet. Any mention of SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Scheme)? Whilst the scale of any increase in biodiversity will be unknown until after completion, I'd have thought that as there's to be a car park, wagtails are a certainty!

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  2. I agree with Graeme - if there is a car park, there should be plenty of opportunities to create habitat within the SuDS. Call them rain gardens if that helps to sell the idea.

    The green roof is definitely a huge opportunity though - look at aerial photos of supermarkets and you will see the huge areas involved. The issue with green roofs is that key design decisions are usually made before you get your invitation. Work on that perhaps? Make sure you are there at the beginning.

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  3. With my book 'Screamer the Swift' I tried Tescs for support in Bath with no luck but Morrisons were willing to give money for boxes but would not add them to their building. Any future supermarket development would be better to use Swift Bricks instead of a tower as they are permanent and need no maintenance. You may like to know the book is now being sent to Africa with 2 schools in Malawi, 1 in Uganda and 1 in South Africa twinned with schools in Tayside via the Tayside Swift group. Still this 'green' government will not encourage all new buildings to have Swift bricks included!!

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    1. Simons Group (we are the Developer at Malmesbury) installed 9 purpose built wall integrated swift boxes with advice from Edward Meyer of the Swift Conservation Society at Cheshire Oaks for M&S (Stanney Lane, Ellesmere Port). They have to be quite high above the ground to be attractive to swifts, the building at Malmesbury is not as high so a swift tower will be the better option. Nesting for Swallows, House Martins and Sparrows can more easily be accommodated at eaves level. Simons aim to install bird and bat boxes on all of our sites under the advice of our ecologists. We often find that conflicting needs for the safety of people undertaking maintenance and external lighting makes it preferable to site these biodiversity features slightly away from service yards and entrances, but every site is different. If you would like to follow progress at Malmesbury on facebook; SimonsGroupatMalmesbury and Twitter on @Simons_Malmes we look forward to hearing from you.

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  4. Sounds like a job well done, Mark. I'm also glad to see that Wiatrose also sell game. Always good to see such a company support the consumption of sustainable, wild meat products.

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  5. Well done Waitrose. They've always been one step ahead of the others in my view and this is another feather in their cap. (Pardon the pun.)

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  6. Very interesting, Mark and a couple of thoughts:

    First, whilst its hugely creditable that JLP have involved you surely there is a missed opportunity here ? Surely there should be a 'site kit' that builds in a range of standard things for wildlife - the odd hollow brick for tit or sparrow nesting, ledges for wagtails or swallows, more thought into car park planting (I'd comment on horrid red berries were it not for the waxwings !). I bet the layout of the shop isn't left to a gang of rather badly briefed external consultants ! And it doesn't mean you don't get your money, because having put the 'standards' in place you use your experts to put the icing on the cake, bringing out what is special about each site (that little flower meadow/rough corner).

    Second, perhaps we should be talking setting, not offsetting. We think about green space in our towns and cities, but not the landscape they are set in: planning and DCLG stop, Defra take over - and hard up against the fence is your field of maize. many small towns and villages have less useable green space than big cities. Why not use development to create parkland round our towns and cities / Can't afford it, obviously - but planning permission generally increases land values by about 100X. Would it be so terrible if for each developed green field hectare we asked for 9 hectares of green space ? That would bring the gain down to 10 X. Would you be happy if your savings went up 10 X overnight ? I would. And, of course as well as being a place people could go the park would, quite quietly, be solving flooding problems, reedbeds filtering grey runoff - and perhaps even taking runoff from nearby farmland. Trees would provide fuel (and, again to their credit, Waitrose are already into biomass). On top of all that, it raises the question - with things as they are at present isn't there a different route to conservation through working directly with business ? As I've said here before, I've far greater faith in B&Q than in Government forestry policy !

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  7. Malmesbury used to be such an attractive place. A pity they couldn't stick it behind the Dyson factory on the Tetbury Road.

    http://www.slideshare.net/CarolineMoore/10-reasons-to-vote-against-waitrose-malmesbury-v2

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  8. In my day job as a commercial property manager I have noticed a greater leaning towards the creation of more 'habitat' and wildlife friendly practices by owners on some of the estates/properties they own.
    More recently I was asked to look at the management of a new small industrial estate that was being built. I noticed it had a brook flowing past the car park and an established Spinney in one corner. On asking further questions it turned out that as part of the planning process a Habitat Management Plan was written up and I obtained a copy of it. The document runs into 100 pages and makes prescriptive requirements on the cutting of the slices of meadows being created, the management of the banks to the brook and the native species planted, the coppicing of the trees in the spinney etc etc.
    Asking a landscaping contractor to price for this work has revealed that unless you are used to managing a nature reserve they haven't got a clue beyond the standard approach of cut everything and get out as quick as poss!
    So my point is that it is great that companies are prepared to consider (and may be required to) create habitat initiatives within their development process, but there are very few professionals (within the property industry) who will have an idea on how to maintain and manage it properly.
    In my case, my role will extend to nature reserve manager as well as property manager! Going forward this trend has to be a good thing for ecology consultants to get into in terms of subsequent management rather than just the initial report process.

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    1. Gert, I sympathise with your findings regarding keeping wildlife habitat at it's best in commercial development. We (Simons Group) have discussed long term management strategy for our proposals with Waitrose for this site (wildlife habitat is not just for opening day - it's a lifelong commitment). We have found on other sites that the Wildlife Trust's Biodiversity Benchmark is a good entry to procedural management for operators and landlords. Perhaps there is a business opportunity here for really educated landscape management service providers to exploit?

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  9. I like the sound of a swift tower, also the tussack grass area but you have missed one trick. A kestrel box. We have a very big logistics warehouse that has a big'ish tussack grass area and I persuaded my boss to install a Kestrel box to the actual outside of the sheet metal building. Seven months after installing we now have a female using the box, fingers crossed for the spring.
    I have to wonderif the site will have sall turbines to further reduce the impact of the site, and swifts will deall with this?

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  10. Great to hear about this - very interesting and fantastic potential - good to think the wildlife will not be knowingly undersold! Will there be any community involvement in the rockery / area of scrub once created? e.g. could local schools adopt a bit of each (assuming the traffic in and out of the store didn't make this impractical).

    One thing to possibly be aware of when planting native is that it really is native - ie UK sourced at the very least (preferably sourced closer than that) and not grown on in nurseries overseas. Much planting of supposed 'native' species may not be native at all, e.g. subspecies of southern European origin. There's a section in Rackham's woodlands about this - one example (from memory) is of a particular subspecies of hawthorn planted on roadside verges which came into leaf two weeks earlier and so discouraged primroses. Don't know to what extent this applies to smaller things you'd plant in a rockery, and JLP may already be on to this.

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  11. Green roofs on supermarkets is a great idea. A bit of architecture thrown in and it could look as if you are getting your food directly out of the ground.

    Green roofs, insulate, slow down water run off - mitigating flood risk, use recycled materials and can provide wildlife habitats.

    Designing the roof into the building is always preferable to retro-fitting, indeed it is necessary on modern quick build light weight constructions.

    It is quite possible to have a green roof that is useless for wildlife or a living roof covered in pollinators and other plants and animals. Buglife and our partners have done extensive work ro improve green roof designs for wildlife - our guide can be downloaded here:- http://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/habitat-projects/living-roofs

    Cheers

    Matt

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  12. We live right behind the site and were dismayed by the decision to build a supermarket here due to the rich and abundant wildlife we experience here which has included deer, badgers, foxes various birds of prey and all sorts of 'garden' birds. However it seems like you are steering Waitrose in a positive direction. The swift tower sounds brilliant as we often see swifts here and have seen them nest in the Inner Mills building. A few things that would improve the site would be the inclusion of bat and owl boxes. We are fortunate enough, in the summer months, to see plenty of bats of several species flying around the mill buildings and along the river. It would be great if more roost sites for them could be provided. We also hear and see Tawny owls throughout the year and I'm sure some form of shelter or box would encourage them remain in this area. It would be a very sad day indeed to lose any of these creatures here.

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      1. Mark, Steve has beaten me to it a bit. This is on the edge of Braydon Forest and about 3 miles down the road there is extensive bat work going on. Barn Owl work is also in progress a short distance away. I don't know how close to woodland this site is but a bat tower or a barn owl site wouldn't go amiss.

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  13. Mark
    Great opportunity and good luck with it. I couldn't help but observe the similarity to issues and excuses I face to deliver this. The obstacles are trotted out with such ease its like a broken record! One of the main problems highlighted by Gary is by the time you get involved, anything for wildlife has already been designed out of the development.

    I strongly echo the comments of Graeme, Gary and Matt - Green roofs and SuDS are the way forward. If designed imaginatively they can be inspiring and given people find shopping stressfull, can be very theraputic. Large supermarkets have a massive wealth of opportunity for it and its sad designers seem slow to realise that potential. Try our SuDS guide here: http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/SuDS_report_final_tcm9-338064.pdf
    Also go to Gary's site (raingardens.info) and download the UK Raingarden guide. It might also inspire you look at the series artist impression photos on the same site here: http://raingardens.info/keep-nature-wildlife-in-the-city/ as an example of what all supermarket car parks should have!

    Your comment 'Access to this area would be pretty limited once the site was established as a supermarket' infers they actually can get something in there to cut the meadow if they put their mind to it. They might even consider encouraging staff-ownership by having a 'hay-rake' session after its been cut? Within reason finding somewhere on site to pile the arrising might be good for things like grass snake even! Don't worry too much about the nutrient issues, some of our work in London identified simple mixes more tollerant of that.

    Strategic location of internal swift bricks is essential - allowing retrofit and a tower (although the latter is novel and good means of publicity) gives the developer a soft option and easy get out. If its integral to the building they are not visible, last the life of the building and maintenance free! Sparrows can use swift bricks where as swifts cannot use sparrow boxes - as both need the help a swift brick allows them to sort themselves out!!

    Hope that helps?

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  14. Mark, are the hedges on site protected by law, i.e. an Enclosure Act? The hedges in our village were supposedly protected by this Act of Parliament. When another business park was built all the "protected" hedges were bulldozed away. A shelter belt of "native" (foreign stock) trees were planted around the whole site, at public expense. These were all removed as each area was built on. The moral is, do not take any notice of the "developer" as they turn out to be destroyers, with the local authorities backing. If, as you think, the scheme actually does produce a wildlife friendly environment then it will be in the minority. Also should be remembered, you cannot build the history of a habitat. A case of "development" at any cost to our Environment. As has been said by other bloggers, developers do not know much, if anything, about our environment or the needs of wildlife. The few that do and actually deliver their promises are the minority. I have 30 years experience of "developers" and LAs apathy. Any development proposal should have legally binding environment schemes built in which are enforced, the LAs will not enforce. What do you want, the environment or jobs was said at a meeting. One way to do this is for the developer to lodge a "bond" with the LA which is returnable when the development is finalised to the LAs satisfaction.

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    1. I'm responsible for making sure Simons Group develop the site in strict accordance with wildlife legislation. If you have any concerns please do not hesitat to contact me directly. if you would like to follow progress at Malmesbury on facebook; SimonsGroupatMalmesbury and Twitter on @Simons_Malmes we look forward to hearing from you.

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  15. Mark,

    An interesting blog and one that is right within the area that I work, planning and development. How many locals suggested a green roof at the pre-planning stage when they had the opportunity? The planning application for the site with the documentation is available for all and sundry to read here: http://northplanning.wiltshire.gov.uk/DCOnline/AcolNetCGI.gov?ACTION=UNWRAP&RIPNAME=Root.PgeResultDetail&TheSystemkey=78411

    Permission was granted in August 2013, two years after the ecology surveys were completed to support the planning application. An initial habitat and protected species survey was completed in July 2011 and a bat appraisal and single activity survey associated with three grey poplar trees was undertaken at the very end of September 2011. Both reports are available under the 'Documents' tab at the above link.

    Whilst it is pleasing to see that Waitrose are wanting to add some biodiversity to the project, it would have been much better to do this pre-planning as it could then have been designed in to the building. I say this, as I suspect that the building's design that has been granted permission would need to be substantially changed (stronger roof, different materials etc) if a green roof is 'tagged on' and this would likely be a significant alteration, thus requiring at least permission to alter the design, if not a new application. Something, I cannot see happening. They want to build now...and get the customers in through the door as a supermarket that looks like an arable field (because it is an arable field) doesn't earn them money and secondly, the muck shifting season starts in March when it is generally drier and easier to dig foundations. So the building contractors won't want to be delayed.

    So any biodiversity gain will have to be within the existing footprint and design. Which is why the meadow probably seems to be more palatable to Waitrose...but then there is the cost of maintaining it and making sure that the maintenance is doing what it is projected to do. Will Waitrose want to pay money out of their profit margin to do this?

    This is classic example of an opportunity lost. I agree that supermarkets and other business' that have a commercial interest in a healthy environment and healthy pollinators ought to be doing more than they actually do. Certainly, a green roof could have created habitat, but also reduced/ ameliorated run-off, provided insulation, reduced the visual impact of the development, created a noteworthy architectural feature and a whole lot more.

    It would be interesting to see what is taken up and what develops (other than a tin shed and tarmac). Keep us informed Mark!

    Richard

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      1. Mark,

        Whilst the July 2011 ecology report (http://northplanning.wiltshire.gov.uk/DocsOnline/50102_25.pdf) made no reference to arable plants (quite possibly due to the soils being too nutrient enriched), the general area is within (it would seem), an arable plant 'hotspot' - see various Plantlife documents, e.g. http://www.plantlife.org.uk/uploads/documents/New_Priorities_for_Arable_Plant_Conservation.pdf and http://www.plantlife.org.uk/uploads/documents/ARABLE_PLANTS_-_a_management_guide.pdf

        It may be appropriate, given the sites previous use, to consider creating an arable field margin in association with the species-rich hedgerows, which were identified as being 'Important' within the meaning of the Hedgerow Regulations 1997. Obviously I haven't been to site and am not involved directly but this would be a consideration by me assuming the geology (chalk I am guessing here) is appropriate and the layouts make this a contender. Another benefit is that the developer will likely be digging down to create foundations, so they'll have heavy machinery on site. Could there be the opportunity to 'invert the soil', i.e. bury the nutrient enriched stuff with all the coarse 'weeds' and bring the subsoil to the surface? This may not add too much extra cost to the developer, they'll have the machine and operator on site. All it will need is a source of arable flora - local Natural England office may be able to advise; and also whether the developer could get some monies (?HLS) to manage the site after its creation. There is the benefit of connecting the food that Waitrose sells with the arable fields, the site's history and the flora. The only downside, which may dissuade you, is that it could be good for linnets....

        What do you think?

        Richard

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        1. "chalk I am guessing here"

          No chalk in the Cotswolds - Great Oolite Group Forest Marble and Cornbrash limestones and clays

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          1. Mark / Richard. Filbert is correct. Wiltshire is a chalk and cheese county. Chalk down south and very much clay up here.

            Taking Richard's point about arable flora, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has a Braydon Forest project and with several hay meadow reserves within 5 miles of this site I am sure that there is a supply of seed rich hay that can be spread on the ground.

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          2. I'm not familiar with the soils/geology so I couldn't comment on whether deep soil inversion is appropriate in this instance, however I have found it be a very effective technique on other sites. It can be expensive and I would advise consulting with Landlife who in recent years have carried out a fair bit of deep soil inversion in partnership with the Woodland Trust, for info: http://wildflower.co.uk/Soil_Inversion.pdf

            Key factors to consider at this stage is the fertility of the both the topsoil and the subsoil (>25 mg/l Olsen's P is likely to be a significant limiting factor) and the presence of field drains, which if present would be destroyed if inverting at depth.

            Re sowing - if inverting at depth, personally I would wait and see what is thrown up by the seed-bank in the first year or two before I considered introducing anything, the seed-bank could well throw up some interesting surprises and guide you as to whether to manage the site for grassland or arable flora.

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    1. Richard, it was interesting to read your comment about the muck shifting season being in March. Any later and ground nesting birds could be on site. In our village I asked for ground works to be outside the nesting season. A reasonable request, I thought. Ground works took place destroying active skylarks nests, grey partridge, tree sparrow and linnet. The local authority said it was not their concern. Maybe the timing was not their concern but the law should be, i.e. wildlife and countryside act. The policy seems to be, if you are creating jobs you can do anything. Why have laws if they are ignored? Why have a government if making laws is a waste of time?

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  16. A couple of small wind turbines were erected in the car park of the Tesco Extra in Barrow-in-Furness six or seven years ago. There was some problems as a few Gulls came to a nasty end because of the blades and I understand a few unlucky shoppers got showered in bits of bird.

    Barrow can be very windy so it seemed like a good idea but on my visits I haven't seen them turning for many months so it looks like they have been switched off.

    Not suitable for every site but worth thinking about in the correct location.

    A picture of the turbines:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective23/3663297829/

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  17. Firstly I would like to thank Mark for writing about what we are trying to do at Malmesbury and we would be the first to admit that we are on a journey and still learning. We started the journey last year with a number of biodiversity trials in Waitrose and John Lewis branches so whilst we are new at this, we are committed to getting it right, please bear with us.

    We are pleased to see that your readers broadly support what we are doing and we welcome the specific recommendations that local residents have put forward.

    With regards to the swift tower, we have sought advice from Swift Conservation and our architectural team are now looking at possible designs. We hope that the swift tower will also incorporate bat boxes.

    A number of people have suggested nest boxes for owls. This is the kind of valuable local knowledge that doesn't always appear in ecology reports. There is no reason why we wouldn't install an owl nest box so we will seek recommendation from our ecologists as to where it should be installed.

    I'm sure the team here will be sharing any new developments with you Mark and we look forward to your continued challenge.

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    1. Toby as a "partner" working for John Lewis in Northants and using a fake name to avoid any disputes/slap on wrists I was wondering if we were/are going to incorporate any of the suggestions to our distribution centres and warehouses? If not why not? And if so, when?
      The Brackmills distrubution site would be perfect for a spot of "green" treatment the roof is gagging for solar panels and the yard is a concrete disgrace.

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    2. I few nestboxes and a bit of meadow is pretty poor from an organisation the size of John Lewis. You should have planned a green roof & sustainable drainage (SUDS) in from the beginning. And don't ask people to 'bear with you'. Have you never built any supermarkets before??? Pathetic.

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      1. m parry - a bit harsh. Did you read the earliest blog post on this subject https://markavery.info/2014/01/23/waitrose-live-malmesbury/ where green roofs were discussed briefly? I do wonder whether green roofs are always the right answer - but I am sure that they sometimes are. They tend, I am told, to have a lot of non-native plant species and increase the weight of the roof and therefore the cost of the building (and the environmental footprint) so it isn't a clear-cut case. Also, there were plenty of SUDS-type stuff installed here. Read the second of the posts on this subject https://markavery.info/2014/04/08/malmesbury-revisited-2/ and you can see that BREEAM was mentioned.

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  18. Hello Toby, it is good to hear that you are seeking to incorporate wildlife features into your design for the site. It has been my long experience of "developments" in my area that little notice is taken of local naturalists experience of the local wildlife. It is a more responsible attitude to site the new building and associated structures within the existing landscape as much as possible i.e. within any hedge rows rather than hedge removal and replanting. I do not know the site so I cannot comment on this individual plan. I assume the development is at an advanced stage and any change proposed would be too late as far as the footprint of the building and parking is concerned. If this is the case then perhaps you would bear in mind the existing landscape for any future projects? It surely is not a responsible attitude to clear away hundreds of years of bio-diversity to allow an empty computer screen to be used for design features. This is the "modern" way of most developers and ought to be consigned to the past. It would also help protect the ground nesting birds, which may have taken residence on the proposed site if it has been left uncultivated for the previous year, if the groundworks take place before the breeding season starts.

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    1. The development at Malmesbury has intentionally retained the existing hedge features and is only developing the area which was under cultivation up until Autumn 2013. Over the winter we have had archaeological investigations and we have started work this week so please be assured that there are no resident ground nesting birds. We anticipate birds may nest earlier than normal in the hedge rows this year which has resulted in pruning and clearance for the entrances as early as practical to enable a new footpath to be formed directly between the new store and the town centre. Our site management team will ensure that all operatives are briefed to watch out for nesting activity to avoid accidental disturbance of nests this spring. Mark Avery will be amongst the first to hear about any nesting observed around the site. You can follow progress on our Facebook page SimonsGroupatMalmesbury
      Kind Regards
      Rosi (On behalf of Simons Group Ltd)

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      1. Hello Mark, here is a cunning plan. Why not make bus fares into town free of charge. That way shops could be sited in towns.

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  19. One way that a supermarket could make a big impact on wildlife is to stock Conservation Grade accredited Fair to Nature products in a Fair to Nature food aisle!

    The ingredients in Fair to Nature products are grown on farms that dedicate a minimum of 10% of their production land to wildlife. On these areas the farmers create and manage wildlife habitats for a wide range of species, including wildflowers for pollinating insects; wild bird food crops to feed farmland birds over the winter months; special areas to encourage rare arable plants; and tussock grass areas for small mammals, birds and invertebrates.

    So doing something for wildlife can be an in-store activity as well, and can have a massive impact on the wellbeing of wildlife on farmland.

    Have a look at www.conservationgrade.org if you want to know more.

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  20. Arriving at Malmesbury's new Waitrose store late this afternoon , I was not disappointed . Indeed, so uplifting are the raised treetop surroundings , almost reminiscent of shopping in Gstaad , Switzerland , one almost wondered if this
    was a mirage . Inside , despite what must have felt a long day , smiling staff offered the usual Waitrose welcome and assistance , amid trade-mark immaculate surroundings stocked with irresistible prettily packaged groceries .

    Outside, the Swift Tower ( white dovecot , standing in an area beside the coffee terrace - designated for wildlife , apparently to be managed by the Malmesbury River Valleys Trust ) is an inspired touch . Congratulations to all those involved - what with the equally enjoyable branch at Cirencester , the Cotswold Hills are alive with the smile of Waitrose .

    And special thanks to Dpctor Avery ( just found while looking up an address for the local rag's letters page ) whose contribution has certainly made for a serene site

    A.Bacon

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