Trentham’s Beaver Project Shortlisted in West Midlands RTPI Awards - Trentham Estate
Estate & Gardens

Trentham’s Beaver Project Shortlisted in West Midlands RTPI Awards

Trentham is delighted to announce that their Beaver Project has been shortlisted for Best Project at the West Midlands Royal Town Planning Institute awards. The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at the Millennium Point on Friday 21 June.

Trentham is a conservation and biodiversity hotspot steeped in history, and a famous landmark in the Staffordshire region. On Monday 27 March 2023, Trentham welcomed a family of Eurasian beavers into a 182-acre enclosure and parkland lake setting in a partnership with the Beaver Trust. The enclosure is the largest Beaver enclosure in Britain, and allowed Trentham to re-introduce the native British species known for their keystone effect and benefits they bring to ecosystems to their land.

Beavers are often referred to as ‘ecosystem engineers’, and once played a crucial role in the UK’s wetland landscapes from prehistoric times until they were hunted to extinction.  Today, their role in combating climate change is increasingly being recognised as they make changes to their habitats.

Carol Adams, Trentham’s Head of Horticulture and Biodiversity, spearheaded the project and now visitors can get an insight into beavers’ activity as the gardens support their cultural reintroduction to Britain, a core part of the project. She said, “This was such an amazing opportunity to establish a keystone species back into a historic landscape, it has been fascinating to see how the beavers have responded to their ready-made 69-acre beaver ‘pond’. The beavers are so settled in their new environment that they had two kits within their first summer.

“We are thrilled that this project has reached the shortlist, making it quite an unusual project within these awards.

“The Turley team and our contractors deserve recognition for battling the elements working through challenging winter conditions to get Britain’s largest beaver enclosure ready for the March release deadline.”

Whilst the objective to successfully reintroduce a pair of Eurasian Beavers to Trentham may appear relatively straightforward on the surface, the sensitive location called for significant care to successfully navigate a combination of complex environmental, historical and technical challenges.

Turley provided expert advisory services, delivering extensive site analysis to demonstrate that the project’s benefits were well-balanced within the context of Trentham Conservation Area. This covered consideration of Grade II and II* listed buildings, bridges and a registered park and garden, which includes thousands of trees, many veteran, in need of conservation.

Close collaboration with Stafford Council helped to ensure the enclosure was technically compliant and appropriately positioned to protect historic settings and mitigate potential flooding downstream. Validation requirements were met to evidence how the impacts of the Beaver fencing had been mitigated.

Director, Planning, Andrea Arnall at Turley said:

“We are delighted that the Trentham Estate – Beaver Project has been shortlisted for the RTPI West Midlands Awards for Planning Excellence 2024 in the Best Project category.

“The successful planning application carefully balanced sensitive impacts of the Beaver enclosure from visual, heritage, tree preservation and water flow perspectives. Added to this, consideration of the historic Trentham Estate, the benefits of Eurasian Beavers to the ecosystem, plus the distinct educational experience offered to visitors made for a unique and multifaceted planning process which led to the fantastic achievement of the re-establishment of a family of Eurasian Beavers.

“The project represents a considerable commitment to support sustainable tourism whilst creating ecological and nature conservation benefits, signifying the important role it plays in mitigating the effects of climate change.”

Bespoke strategies were employed in response to the planning and heritage impact assessments, including inputs by specialist engineers and ecologists into detailed designs to set out how construction over an extensive weir section would prevent significant flooding issues.

The approaches developed for the project are now being used as a case study for The Beaver Trust to support the private sector, public sector and charitable organisations in planning and developing their own Beaver reintroduction enclosures.

Trentham is delighted that the project has been recognised. It was a huge commitment which is now playing a vital role in supporting the growing eco tourism sector. Trentham is an important place for the local community – a place for sanctuary, reflection, and inspiration. Attracting visitors far and wide, Trentham delights in welcoming multi-generational families to explore the landscape, spot the wildlife, take inspiration from the gardens, and experience the array of activities and events on offer.