Making Space for Nature


The £2.4m Making Space for Nature scheme introduces biodiversity and accessibility improvements to seventy hectares of public open spaces, roadside verges, woodlands and closed churchyards.

Regenerating and Re-wilding Public Spaces

Letting nature back in

Cormac was responsible for planning, designing, developing and maintaining fifty-five outdoor spaces in fourteen towns across Cornwall.

Building on Cornwall Council’s previous £2.8m Green Infrastructure for Growth project, Making Space for Nature is all about introducing biodiversity to open spaces in towns across the county, while improving accessibility for the surrounding communities to interact with the natural environment.

Making Space for Nature required a wide-ranging approach from Cormac’s multi-divisional project team, carrying out habitat improvements that include: pollinator-friendly planting, artificial habitats such as bat boxes, wildflower meadow creation, natural drainage systems, composting areas, aquatic animal habitats and careful maintenance. We also added interactive features including sensory gardens, herb gardens and fruit trees and bushes.

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Diverse Skills for a Diverse Project

Making residents feel part of the project

The Making Space for Nature scheme demonstrates Cormac’s broad service offering in the implementation of major civils projects. While our contracting division carried out the civil engineering and hard landscaping elements, the landscaping team manages the planting and horticulture, and our environment teams work on the maintenance and aftercare.

Helping local residents to feel integrated in the schemes is key – we designed and installed benches and play equipment or outdoor gyms, creating running trails and sensory gardens, as well as ‘help yourself’ fruit trees and bushes.

Cormac’s design team also came up with features such as cutting ‘windows’ in surrounding trees to provide views across the countryside and coastline, information boards to help people learn about the diversity in their local park, and ensuring the right balance of wild meadow land and mown areas for picnics, games and dog walking.

Challenges and Solutions

Responsive design

Bringing nature closer to people’s doorsteps requires different solutions in different places. Each site had its own specific challenges – whether it’s a drainage problem in a sloping site, removing invasive species, arboreal management or dealing with the state of the earth itself.

With our know-how, experience and highly specialised teams and equipment, we were able to design and implement site-specific responses to all challenges. 

Many housing estates built in the seventies and eighties had recreational spaces that were just construction-site materials buried under a thin layer of turf. In many cases, this had to be dug out and replaced with reclaimed soil from other locations.

Due to soil contamination (such as high arsenic content) in some places, no-dig methods were used and raised beds designed and installed, to allow for biodiversity to thrive, without spreading contamination. 

Scheduled monuments and heritage buildings also required special treatment within the schemes – something Cormac is well-placed to do, thanks to our specialist heritage team.


Future-proofing the parkland

Creating biodiverse open spaces is one thing, and while the more ‘wild’ an environment, the less intervention it requires, maintenance of public land is a major factor the Making Space for Nature schemes face. 

We are dedicated to integrating the most efficient and specialised equipment for maintaining community spaces. Our maintenance teams have decades of experience in managing everything from verges to woodland, and they are supported by enthusiastic volunteers in the local communities.

‘The Making Space for Nature scheme has also changed the way we’re maintaining highways and verges,’ adds Richard Keast, Project Manager, Capital Programme . ‘Using new equipment, rather than constantly mowing the verge, we let it grow. In the past, we would just ‘cut and drop’ – where the grass clippings would get sucked down into the soil and the nitrate level increases.

By taking the cuttings away – and doing it twice a year – we’re reducing the nutrient content of the soil, so the grass isn’t able to bully out the wildflowers. The result: you get more biodiversity and more wildflowers.’

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    Hectares of public space developed fro biodiversity

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    Hectares within Making Space for Nature

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    Individual Cornwall Council sites redeveloped for nature

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    Cornwall towns benefitting form Making Space for Nature

  • In line with Cornwall Council’s strategy to reduce herbicide use, wildflower and planting beds are manually stripped with small excavators. Excavated materials are reused on site to create soft landscape features – all using the smallest tracked vehicles to reduce damage to existing surfaces.

    Richard Keast

    Project Manager, Capital Programme

  • Thanks to these projects, we have created more flood resilient landscapes, whilst improving access and understanding through signage, seating, paths and ‘natural play’ throughout the county.

    Richard Keast

    Project Manager, Capital Programme

  • The ground at the Bayview Terrace Park project in Hayle was just one example. We were digging up all sorts of things: bricks and rubble. But it paid off in the end. The meadows now look great.

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Cormac began as a business with a remit to service all the civil engineering needs of Cornwall. As a consequence we have an extensive range of specialist skillsets, and can offer a true end-to-end service to our clients in Cornwall and beyond.

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