Open accessibilty tools

Development of land

Development of land, Cheetham Street, Middlesbrough, Tees Valley, 1953 by Kenneth Gribble (Image courtesy of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) part of Teesside University)

Did you know…?

Since the Second World War, a whopping 97% of wildflower meadows in England and Wales have been lost due to human activity.

Look closer at the painting: Cheetham Street, Middlesbrough, Tees Valley by Kenneth Gribble, 1953

  • What do students think is happening in the picture?
  • How has this land been developed for human beings to use? How many different uses can students spot?
  • What might this area have looked like before these buildings and structures were developed?
  • What might it look like today? Students could explore Cheetham Street and the surrounding area using the street view on Google Maps (zoom in a little here to reveal the label for Cheetham Street, running next to Bolckow Road).

Find more ideas for looking closely at paintings in our handy guide here.

Habitat loss is the main factor affecting our wildlife. It is causing the numbers of different species to decline – and sometimes become endangered. Aside from farming and agriculture, and industrial pollution, one of the biggest human impacts on habitat loss is the development of land.

How does land development affect wildlife?

As human beings, we rely on housing, roads, railways, hospitals, schools and many other types of infrastructure for our survival, health and wellbeing.

But this comes at a cost to wildlife, as development inevitably involves the digging up and removal of hedges, trees and grasslands. It can also include the drainage of ponds and wetland areas. These are, of course, home to a huge variety of different animal and plant species.

What can be done to help?

New laws mean it is now more difficult to do this without considering the impacts on wildlife. Environmental organisations, like The Wildlife Trusts, are also working with businesses to minimise these impacts on local environments and to use ‘sustainable’ approaches.

An example of this is nature-friendly housing development. This involves planting wildlife-rich community green spaces, walkways, gardens, verges, roofs, wetlands and other natural features, where new houses are being built.

Importantly, it also involves joining them up with existing areas of countryside to create ‘natural corridors’ for animals to safely move around in. This is not only good for our wildlife but provides access to nature for humans, which is important for our health and quality of life.

Local links

A local housing development company has been working with the community in Thorntree, Middlesbrough, to transform a communal space for people living in the nearby housing estate. They have made planters from recycled materials, planted fruit and nut trees and vegetables, which will be shared among the residents. They have created wildlife habitats including compost heaps and hedgehog boxes.

Tees Valley Museums have more paintings in their collections that show how our local land has been developed including: