The Sanctuary Local Nature Reserve

Conservation Manager Tim Birch at The SanctuaryConservation Manager Tim Birch at The Sanctuary

Derby City Council has now scrapped its plans to build a cycle track on The Sanctuary Local Nature Reserve.

Drone footage of The Sanctuary - copyright Derbyshire Aerial Video & Photography Services



The Sanctuary was established by Derby City Council, with the help of the Trust and other local wildlife groups, over 10 years ago. This urban bird reserve lies close to Derby County's football stadium. It is a haven for visiting wildlife, with more than 90 bird species recorded up to 2011, a remarkable number for an urban reserve. These include sand martins, little ringed plovers, lapwings, little grebes, coots and various ducks.

The reserve features nest boxes, a large pond, nesting wall for sand martins and is fenced to protect the wildlife, with platforms giving great views over the reserve. Each spring migrant birds such as wheatear stop off here on migration to rest and feed before moving on north. One winter a very rare Dartford warbler was discovered here, the first in the county for over a century.

In February the Council's Planning Control Committee approved a planning application to build a cycle track on the reserve next to the new velodrome. The track would have run entirely within the reserve with plans for a mountain bike training area in the middle of the section where skylarks breed and migrating birds rest. This would have been the first time in England that an LNR will be significantly damaged by the authority that established it. 

We estimated that there would be an adverse impact on 40% of the LNR, including loss of habitat and disturbance to wildlife.

In late January the Council proposed a compensation site known as Alvaston Scrub, but we objected to this proposal. See why here.

After the Planning Control Committee's decision, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust took legal advice and obtained an injunction, bringing to a halt the clearance work which had already started on the reserve. We were preparing our case for judicial review when we heard that the council had reversed its decision to grant the planning application. 

The campaign to save the Sanctuary was a partnership involving 16 local wildlife organisations including ourselves, Derbyshire Ornithological Society and the local RSPB group.