Great Crested Newts are set for a boost in York with approval given to the creation of ponds for them to live in.

The move comes as part of a drive by the government to encourage developers to mitigate any harm their projects may cause to such the habitats of Great Crested News by supporting the development of new habitats elsewhere.

The community interest company Wildscapes has been commissioned by Natural England to develop a series of such ponds across North Yorkshire to promote biodiversity as sought by DEFRA.

The construction of two ponds have been approved by City of York Council on public amenity land north of Foss Park Hospital, Haxby Road, York.


The ponds would be approximately 200m2 in size, with excavations of 200mm below ground level with a designated buffer area of 3m around its entirety. The estimated lifespan of the ponds, which would need maintenance is at least 25 years.

A report by city planners said: “The area of land is directly adjacent to the north of Foss Park Hospital and to the east of Haxby Road. The site is located outside of the Green Belt and any Conservation Area boundary.

“The land is owned by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and York St John University have secured funds through Natural England for biodiversity enhancements. The development is not designed for use by people and therefore no provision of access is required.

A further scheme of three similar ponds on agricultural land within the Nature Reserve on Alder Way, New Earwick, has also been approved by city planners.

“The site is located partly in the built-up areas of New Earswick Village and adjacent to agricultural land. The site is within the general extent of York’s Green Belt.”

As with the hospital site, JRF owns the site and the university has secured funding for the work, which would be of a similar size to the Foss Park hospital scheme.

A third scheme involving JRF land for one pond on public amenity land to the north of Foss Park Hospital has yet to be determined.

Approving the Haxby Road scheme, city planners said the scheme would deliver a biodiversity improvement over the coming years.

“In terms of flood risk, it is understood the ponds will naturally create an increase on the local ground water storage capacity to inhibit ground erosion in the event of a flood which will have a net benefit on local flood resilience,” they continued.

Therefore, this scheme met a range of local and national planning policies and should be approved.

The New Earswick scheme would also boost biodiversity and flood resilience.

Likewise, the planners judged this as a Very Special Circumstance, allowing the ponds to be built in the Green Belt.