On behalf of the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability, at Newcastle University, I am writing this to express complete dismay at the proposals to build some 600 houses on currently open land in the Salter’s Lane Neighbourhood Growth Area, as this land immediately adjoins Gosforth Park Nature Reserve, and as such provides essential foraging habitat for the wide range of animals that find refuge in the Reserve (for more details on the proposal, click here).
We believe that the loss of this habitat would destroy one of the last remaining quality habitats in the urban area, further threatening protected species including badger, various bat species, otters and England’s last urban population of red squirrels. The Gosforth Nature Reserve is a SSSI, local wildlife site and Newcastle’s prime wildlife site. As such it has been, and remains, an essential asset to this University for teaching and research purposes. It is also umbilically linked to the Great North Museum, which is a shared project between the University and the City, as well as being HQ to the owners of the Reserve, the Natural History Society of Northumbria.
I have no doubt that the loss of this land to housing would result in highly visible public outcry, as the site is in any case nationally treasured, being featured on the BBC’s Springwatch programmes, and referenced in the Forum for the Future designation of Newcastle as the greenest of the UK’s 20 largest cities.
Every year students and staff from Newcastle University undertake research projects in the reserve and also volunteer their time to help manage the site. One of the reasons is that this site is close to the University and therefore accessible to staff and students but more importantly it is not heavily compromised by visitor pressure or neighbouring development which means that the natural world can be studied.
It is only 10 years since the Council designated this areas as a Strategic Wildlife Corridor linking Jesmond Dene to the open countryside. As this corridor has since been hemmed-in by housing developments on the Great Park, its continued preservation is now of the utmost importance.
As such, NIReS calls on the Council to abandon Policy CS 3, or at the very least to remove the Salter’s Lane zone from its provisions.