Silverlake is an eco-leisure development in Dorset, created within an existing 230ha quarry site that had come to the end of its working life.

Biodiversity by Design were ecological designers and assessors for the Silverlake development, from the masterplanning stage through to planning submission.

The creation of a rich and varied ecological setting that seeks to celebrate the local area’s natural heritage, was considered from the outset to be fundamental in achieving high visitor experience and wellbeing. This philosophy was adopted throughout our production of the Ecological Impact Assessment. We also undertook EU Habitats Regulations Assessment to demonstrate that there would be no adverse effects on the integrity of the neighbouring European designated heathlands.

We designed a habitat mosaic based on the key habitats in the vicinity to complement the existing habitat character of the Site and surrounds. Habitats created include heathland, acid grassland, wetland, and woodland, all of which will contribute to achieving the goals of various local and national biodiversity strategies/initiatives. Much of this habitat creation was centred in an area described as the ‘Biodiverse Heart’, a substantial (ca. 20ha) new wetland/archipelago feature.

The multiple islands and habitat types here were designed to afford protection for various rare ground-nesting birds (including Wood Lark, Sky Lark, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Common Tern), maximise riparian ecotone, and create a fascinating and varied network of channels and inlets for visitors to explore by boat. The new eco-leisure housing areas all boast lakeside settings, making use of depressions created from former quarrying works. All lakes have soft-engineered margins, promoting the establishment of substantial reedbed and other riparian habitat types.

Image: Habitat First Group

Ultimate Client
Habitat First Group

Proximate Client
Habitat First Group

Design Team Leader

Willmore Iles Architects & Featherstone Young

Landscape Architect

Civil Engineer
Peter Brett Associates

Water Quality Scientist
Haycock Environmental Consultants


Site Area
Greater than 100 Hectares

The Sunday Times British Homes Awards 2016: Habitat House awarded Best House Design (up to 50 homes)