BBC Countryfile visits Homes England land managed by RSK

August 17, 2021

A site in West Sussex, UK, managed by RSK on behalf of Homes England, featured on BBC show Countryfile last weekend as part of a segment on biodiversity net gain.

The Countryfile crew visited Lowlands Farm on 15 July to film for a ten-minute piece on how approaches to development and land management should leave the natural environment in a better state than it was previously in. The site, which is just one of several sites located north of Burgess Hill, West Sussex, is part of Homes England’s Northern Arc scheme.

Homes England is the government’s housing agency, charged with increasing the number of new homes that are built year on year in England.

As sub-consultants to TEP (The Environment Partnership (TEP) Ltd) on the Homes England Estates Management Services Framework, RSK’s team of landscape managers provides services including managing contracts and maintaining Homes England landholdings across the south of England. Additionally, teams within the wider group deliver arboriculture, health and safety surveys, ecology, vacant property and engineering inspections as part of the suite of services provided through the National Framework.

The Northern Arc is a strategic site accommodating up to 3500 new homes, neighbourhood centres and employment spaces, as well as supporting community, social and transport infrastructure. There are significant areas of open spaces to be retained as part of the scheme and new open spaces to be created, including three new parks. RSK has been responsible for managing the landscape areas for approximately three years.

The filming at Lowlands Farm and other areas within the Northern Arc involved presenter Tom Heap and saw the team conduct interviews with Nick White of Natural England and Lisa Palframan, Senior Technical Manager for Environment for Homes England. During her interview, Lisa explained Homes England’s approach to biodiversity net gain at the Northern Arc.

Most of the Lowlands Farm site is made up of semi-natural habitats, including broadleaved woodland and unimproved grassland, and will form part of a natural open space as part of the wider Northern Arc masterplan. Lowlands Farm, along with the other parts of the Northern Arc, is being managed by RSK in accordance with a recently prepared transitional Landscape and Ecological Management Plan that identifies management prescriptions for retained habitat areas and land to be developed. Additionally, as part of the range of landscape management services being provided across the Northern Arc, mitigation and enhancement work is being delivered with RSK’s involvement, including advance planting contracts, dormouse mitigation planting, health and safety tree surveys, great crested newt hibernacula creation and bat box installation.

The full show aired on Sunday, 15 August, at 18:30 on BBC One. You can catch up now on BBC iPlayer.