£9.6m new homes scheme caters for bats, toads and newts

Structural engineering experts help ensure a £9.6m Merseyside affordable homes project completes despite the presence of toads, newts, hedgehogs and bats. Tony McDonough reports

Onward Homes
New homes in Southport developed for Onward Homes and Places for People


A firm of Liverpool structural engineering experts has helped to balance the need for new affordable homes with the welfare of some local wildlife.

Shape Engineering was called in to tackle challenges in building 38 affordable rent and shared ownership homes in Scarisbrick in Southport. The £9.6m development has been delivered for social landlords Onward Homes and Places for People.

Backed by Homes England, the scheme faced a number of challenges posed by tricky ground conditions and a number of pre-existing non-human residents.

Builders faced the complication of re-homing some natterjack toads, newts, hedgehogs and bats. They have been accommodated in the landscaping within and around the SUDS pond.

Barry Wilson of Shape explained: “This was probably the most important task. We’ve been commended on our approach in creating a SUDS (sustainable drainage systems) pond that can also serve as a viable and thriving native wildlife habitat.

“The flora and fauna have settled in happily and the site is also coming alive to the sound of families enjoying their new homes.”

And, addressing the challenge of the difficult ground conditions, Barry added: “We needed to remove five to 10- feet of ground cover across the site until we reached a firm strata.

“This enabled us to fully re-engineer the site to an acceptable development platform. We utilised a piled foundation solution to all plots, ensuring any slight residual settlement would not be an issue. It’s a clever solution and enabled us to deliver an oven-ready site.

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“The site levels were monitored following the completion of the plots and external works, with almost zero settlement, demonstrating the veracity of our approach.

“We’ve got a lot of experience with tricky sites such as this and know how to deliver a result that is as cost-effective as it is technically sound.”

The development was designed by JDA Architects, with Markhams the employer’s agents.  The developer was Shape Land and Property.

Shape Engineering is based in Liverpool and works nationwide for commercial and housing developers, including Great Places, Northstone and Sovini.

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