From pitches used by professional footballers, to reed beds loved by birds like the bittern, with woodland, pasture and fishing for good measure. Hanson’s restoration of the Middleton Hall site near Tamworth in Staffordshire has it all.
The sheer extent of the variety involved in the restoration of this 470-hectare sand and gravel site is quite incredible.
So too is the transformation from a previously degraded intensively farmed landscape to one that has a huge diversity of habitats.
Dating in part from Norman times, the original Middleton Hall still stands at the heart of the estate and operates as a wedding and party venue. Around it, Hanson has conserved the ancient park woodland.
It has also returned some of the land it has quarried to farming, with potatoes and wheat both now cropping prolifically.
The football pitches have been achieved on an area that was filled with inert material and are now part of the Aston Villa training ground
But it is perhaps the impact on the valley of the River Tame that is of greatest note. Hanson worked closely with the Environment Agency on a scheme which involved experimental extraction of gravel from the river bank.
In doing so, it made possible the creation of islands, gravel bars and other features which enhanced the habitat value and improved the site’s fishery. With some 23 hectares of reed beds also created in the main gravel workings, the overall benefit has been massive.
And what’s more the restoration helps to alleviate flooding in the wider area because the original flood plain now works as such rather than simply funnelling rising water downstream to Tamworth.