National Shipyard No. 1, Chepstow

The redevelopment of the former National Shipyard No. 1 on the River Wye Special Area of Conservation in Chepstow, Monmouthshire is an important strategic regeneration project in south Wales. Much of the site became a shipyard in the First World War and was the only Shipyard in the UK to launch submarines to counteract the U-boat threat from Germany. Following the war the site had various uses before becoming home to manufacturing of bridge components by the Mabey Group (a family-owned business). About a sixth of the site is a former quarry (Beaufort Quarry) that is also a County Wildlife Site. The Mabey Group decided to relocate its activities on site to more suitable premises and to promote redevelopment of the site for housing/mixed use.

The Mabey Family had long expressed an interest in leaving a positive legacy for the Town after vacating the site and reconnecting Chepstow with much of its waterfront. A design competition was organised by the Family to envision the site’s future and was won by the London architecture firm Studio Egret West (SEW). Biodiversity by Design was invited by SEW to assist in the ecological aspects of development of a masterplan for the site; and the company was then employed directly by Mabey. We initially provided supporting evidence to the Local Plan review process, supporting the case for site redevelopment for housing and then continued to provide full ecological support to the outline planning application.

We developed a detailed formal ecological scoping report in full consultation with Natural Resources Wales, Momouthshire County Council, and the Gwent Wildlife Trust. We then undertook surveys of all major relevant taxa and supervised detailed topographic and levels surveys of the river edge to determine the appropriate boundary for the adjoining River Wye Special Area of Conservation.

Working very closely with the architects and landscape architects we provided key informing parameters for the development of the masterplan, and a green and blue infrastructure strategy. We developed outline mitigation proposals for local translocation of protected species (reptiles). In support of the planning submission we produced the ecological chapter of the Environmental Statement, a Statement to Inform the local authority’s Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Regulations and also contributed considerably to the Design and Access Statement. We also produced a detailed Owners Guidance document for the production of a site-specific Contractors Construction Environmental Management Plan and a detailed outline Method Statement for the construction of the proposed riverside park.

Amongst our key ideas and contributions were the following:

- Ensuring that the masterplan was strongly informed by ecology to optimise the design of green and blue infrastructure both to protect the important biodiversity of the site and the adjacent River Wye and to maximise ecosystem service provision for existing and future residents and visitors to the city.
- Assisting in developing the concept for an exciting and biodiverse riverside park accommodating a new riverside path and landscape design to minimise human disturbance to the SAC.
- Developing creative concepts for the adpatation of Beaufort Quarry part of the site.
- Helping to conceptualise multifunctional ecological corridors connecting across the site from east to west as key urban landscape assets.


Ultimate Client
Mabey Group

Proximate Client
Mabey Holdings

Design Team Leader
Roberts Limbrick, Fira

Roberts Limbrick, Studio Egret West

Landscape Architect

Civil Engineer
JBA Consulting, Arup

Planning Consultant


Site Area
25-100 Hectares

'On behalf of the Mabey Group I must thank Biodiversity by Design and especially Dr Mike Wells for invaluable input at every stage of the project. Without this input, we might not have achieved such a positive planning result (the Borough decribing the scheme as a potential green infrastructure exemplar for Monmouthshire) and brought Natural Resources Wales so fully on board with our ambitions' Andrew Leitch, Leitch Consulting, Project Manager