Achieving planning consent for a broad scheme in Oxford

Site: Court Place Gardens, Iffley

Client: Oxford University Development Ltd


Nicholsons provided ecological support to a new 71 home residential development in Iffley, Oxford, replacing 36 existing properties used as student accommodation. Key constraints on the site were roosting bats, including a pipistrelle maternity roost and several day roosts, an active badger sett, and requirement for biodiversity net gain. Nicholsons worked closely with the client to identify a mitigation strategy for the ecology constraints on the site, with planning consent granted successfully in July 2022.

The scheme is currently under construction under granted licences from Natural England, due for completion in 2023.


Court Place Gardens was a complex of 36 terraced houses used formerly as student accommodation, although largely vacant by the start of our involvement in 2020. It was constructed originally within the grounds of a large manor house with mature gardens and historic interest, and is located adjacent to the River Thames. The client (Oxford University Development Ltd) engaged Nicholsons as the ecologists for redevelopment of the complex to provide 71 new affordable housing units with associated infrastructure and landscaping.


Following a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal and suite of further ecology surveys, various ecology constraints were identified on the site including several bat roosts (including a common pipistrelle maternity colony), active badger sett and an adjacent local nature reserve. The project also had to achieve a minimum 5% net biodiversity gain in accordance with local planning policy.

What we did

Led by Jo Alderton and Rachel Jackson, Nicholsons worked closely with the client to maximise the biodiversity potential of the scheme, including retention of the higher value areas where possible and creating new (high scoring) areas in site landscaping such as wildflower rich grassland, green roof, rain gardens and scrub planting. A 10.85% net gain was achieved for the proposals, together with wider biodiversity benefits which integrated with the scheme design. We also liaised with the council and local interest groups to satisfy any concerns raised in regards to the proposed development. Following consent, we then secured Natural England licences for bats (under the new Earned Recognition scheme) and badgers to allow the development to progress.


The scheme is currently under development, with licenced works completed in late summer-autumn 2022.


  • Helped secure planning consent and discharge conditions.
  • Helped to liaise with local residents to resolve any potential concerns.
  • 10.85% net gain achieved.
  • Natural England bat licence granted under Earned Recognition system.
  • Licenced badger sett closure.