Blairs College Development

Client: Grontmij and Muir Homes

The former seminary school of Blairs College in Aberdeenshire is under a development programme to restore the college, providing a hotel and conference centre and a small housing development within the grounds. This includes a proposed footbridge and cyclepath across the adjacent River Dee, a Special Area of Conservation. In addition to the footbridge works, potential effects on the riparian habitat include those arising from the creation of flood compensation areas and a new outfall.

NES undertook freshwater pearl mussel and otter surveys on the Dee, while surveys of the vegetation communities of the river banks and flood plain informed the design and mitigation for the footpath connections. Bat surveys of the river corridor ascertained the potential effects of lighting this reach of the river and the results were used to guide the lighting design for the bridge and approaches.

We also undertook habitat and protected species surveys to produce a Biodiversity Action Plan for the whole development site. This aims to protect and enhance existing ecological features, which include long established pine and oak woodland, riparian woodland and hedge and wall features, as well as create new species-rich grassland. In addition, it will advise on the creation and management of ponds that are proposed as SUDS features and as landscape features for the golf course drainage system.

We are currently undertaking site supervision of the housing construction site, with particular attention paid to the SUDS system.