Otters are one of the UK’s most playful animals – they love having fun and will happily create water slides just for their own amusement or dive for stones at the bottom of the river, not dissimilar to children playing on holiday. These extraordinary creatures are wonderful to spot in the wild, so, it was with great excitement that Countryside, the developers behind the Great Kneighton development in Trumpington, Cambridge, discovered these beautiful creatures were living on Hobson’s Brook in the heart of the new Country Park.
Otters often travel over large areas, sometimes 20km or more of river habitat and they require clean rivers with an abundant, varied supply of food and plenty of bank-side vegetation which offer secluded sites for their holts. At Great Kneighton Country Park several measures have been put in place to ensure the quality of habitat for a range of wildlife is maintained. A buffer between Hobson’s Brook, where the otters have been spotted, and the built development and haulage roads has been created to reduce noise and human impact on the bankside vegetation. In addition, the crossing points for haulage roads and footpaths were designed to span the brook to minimize ensure wildlife safe and secure access beneath.
Andrew Carrington, Managing Director of Strategic Land, at Countryside comments: “Providing natural green spaces, both for residents and wildlife, is very much our ethos at Countryside. We have a number of ecological projects on all of our sites to attract and enhance the wildlife and make sure they thrive for many years to come. The discovery of otters is such exciting news for us and our residents at Great Kneighton. We have employed experts Ecoulis to oversee the ecology of the Country Park, who have been on site long before any construction started, and will be keeping an eye on our wildlife for as long as 10 years after construction finishes.”
The new Country Park, stretching over 120 acres, is the focus of the Great Kneighton development and a wonderful addition to the green open spaces that Cambridge has to offer. Already, the park has lots of woodland, four ponds, one of which is a 50,000 sq m bird reserve, allotments, playing fields for the new secondary school, and will have a range of adventure play areas for younger residents.
Construction of the park has been taking place in phases, with the first phase now complete and planned to be open to the public next spring. All four ponds have been constructed including the bird reserve which is proving very popular and is now home to a wide range of birds, including lapwings, common terns, mallards, coots, corn buntings, little ringed plovers, grey partridges and moorhens.
In the summer, bats have been widely seen as a number of bat boxes were installed in the park. There has also been evidence of foraging badgers within the grassland on the site although no new setts have been recorded.
Great Kneighton is an exciting new community which is taking shape on the southern fringe of Cambridge. Countryside is building a contemporary, sustainable development of over 2,000 imaginatively designed new homes, from apartments through to six bedroom family houses.
Everything will be on the doorstep at Great Kneighton with a whole range of new amenities being planned. In addition to the country park there will be a new secondary and primary school, community square with health centre, shops, and a library, sports pitches and a public art programme.