Waterfront penthouse for peregrines

A PEREGRINE “penthouse” has been positioned at the top of one of East Anglia's tallest buildings, and conservationists' hopes that the impressive falcons will soon be sitting tenants are just as high.

John Grant

A PEREGRINE “penthouse” has been positioned at the top of one of East Anglia's tallest buildings, and conservationists' hopes that the impressive falcons will soon be sitting tenants are just as high.

The custom-built “apartment” 230ft up on a west-facing parapet of The Mill on Ipswich's regenerated Waterfront was revealed yesterday as the second phase in the Suffolk Ornithologists' Group's plan to entice the falcons back to the county as breeding birds after an absence of more than 200 years.

The success of the group's peregrine box about 140ft up on the Orwell Bridge - where the birds have raised chicks for the past two breeding seasons - inspired group member David Lowe to see if the 23-storey apartment block could be used to tempt the falcons to breed at a second Suffolk site.


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After contacting environmental consultant and group president Steve Piotrowski, Mr Lowe - consultancy and development director for EWS, the Ipswich chartered surveyors who are managing agents for The Mill - was given the go-head by his clients Wharfside Regeneration Group.

Architects for The Mill, John Lyall Architects, helped with the design and the result of the team effort is a marine-ply box set within the parapet, complete with a gravel-lined ledge.

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Mr Lowe said: “The two issues I thought of were whether this site may be too close to the other peregrines on Orwell Bridge and whether the clients and architects would feel comfortable with this on the building. Happily, I need not have been concerned and the co-operation has been excellent.

“We might even have solved a pigeon management problem - we have had to engage a falconer to work on the site as there have been a lot of pigeons, but hopefully the peregrines will sort that out for us now.”

Mr Piotrowski said The Mill offered a breeding site that was even safer for peregrines than the Orwell Bridge. “One of this year's chicks on the bridge was killed after being sucked into the draft of a passing lorry but this site is less hazardous. Peregrines need about 1,000 pigeons a year to raise a family and The Mill is in an ideal location for feeding, with many pigeons in and around the dock area.”

Peregrines were making a comeback in other urban areas around the country, with many tall buildings used as nest sites, he said. “They need to be able to watch for their prey from lofty positions with good all-round vistas. The Mill is just right for that - you can see all the way up to Sizewell, well into Essex and across to Stoke by Nayland church and the Mendlesham Mast. It's a stunning view for us - and perfect for the predatory peregrines.”

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