Backlands, First Cross Road, Twickenham

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First Cross Road, Twickenham Backlands
30th August 2022


Habitats & Heritage (H&H) is the charity that cares for the natural and historic environment and climate in south and west London. We want to see nature flourish whilst protecting and enhancing south and west London’s historic environment. H&H acts as the secretariat of the Richmond Biodiversity Partnership, which writes and oversees the Richmond Biodiversity Action Plan – a supplementary planning document that seeks to conserve biodiversity in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

Immediate neighbours of the ‘Backlands’ (the area behind and between no. 24 Hampton Road and 39 Second Cross Road) have been recording ecological data here for the last three years and in their gardens. Through H&H, this ecological data was submitted to GreenSpace Information for Greater London (GIGL) in line with and under Richmond Council’s service level agreement.

In 2021, H&H deployed a static bat detector facing into the Backlands between 14th to 23rd August which gathered a staggering 1772 records of bat activity, all of which were externally verified by a bat expert to ensure their accuracy. This data shows an abundance of Common Pipistrelle activity (1480 records) from early evening (earliest 8:20pm) through to dawn, the former indicating there could likely to be a nearby maternity roost. Other species recorded were Soprano Pipistrelle (283), Daubenton’s (3), Leisler’s Bat (3) and Noctule (3). These species data has been cited in objections and comments to tree works applications and various other responses and objections to recent nearby planning proposals.

Bats can tell us a lot about the state of the environment, as they are top predators of common nocturnal insects and are sensitive to changes in land use practices. The pressures they face – such as landscape change, development, and habitat fragmentation are also relevant to many other wildlife species, making them excellent ‘indicators’ for the health of other wildlife. The evidence gathered at the Backlands, suggests it provides an important refuge for wildlife and plays an important role in connecting gardens and combatting habitat fragmentation.

Residents and H&H have witnessed work on the Backlands which has degraded its natural value and we are disappointed to see no considerations of nature in any of the various works (removal of trees, shrubs, and ground flora) before a planning application has been lodged. It could be suggested this is a deliberate attempt to try and decrease the value of the space for nature before a planning application has been submitted.

We strongly object to the planning application on the grounds of loss of habitat for bats and a variety of other species, and for the importance of connectivity that the space provides. Any development on this space will be detrimental to bats, insect life and other important species who contribute to both the ecological and climate emergencies. We would like to see the application heard by the Planning Committee with the planning to be refused and the space left to nature, which will quickly start to recolonise over the next few years.

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