IT was a case of Love Thy Neighbour when housebuilders Bellway discovered a family of endangered newts were living next to their latest development site.

Managing director Richard Edgington decided he wanted to ensure the dwindling population of great crested newts were given a helping hand to flourish.

The strategy means the newt -official name Triturus Cristatus - will be safe and well in an improved living environment, including a brand new pond.

Mr Edgington and his team in the Merseyside office of Bellway said they were committed to a range of measures to ensure the dwindling population of the species had the best chance of survival.

Mr Edgington said: "When we announced our plans to create a new village in Rivacre, Ellesmere Port, we also committed ourselves to a wildlife protection strategy.

"Since that time we have been working closely with Ellesmere Port & Neston Council and specialist environmental consultants, Penny Anderson Associates.

"Together, we have drawn up a long-term plan to ensure the small population of great crested newts currently living on part of our new development land is given the best chance of survival and indeed will flourish."

The newts are a protected species across Europe and Bellway has provided a combination of wet and dry habitat conditions in a protected wildlife area at Ellesmere Port.

The company has also installed amphibian fencing across the development site to intercept any migrating newts, allowing them to be moved to a safe area.

A new pond with native plant species has been built and a programme of habitat management is under way.

Bellway is creating a new 360-home village in the heart of the town, consisting of a wide range of housing up to four-bedroomed executive homes costing around £250,000, and leisure and sports facilities, alongside the safeguarded wildlife habitat.

The homes will be built on the south side of the site fronting Rossmore Road East, with a quarter of them being allocated to people who wish to rent or consider shared ownership options.

Interest in the development is so keen that Bellway's pre-launch of the development has been brought forward to today when the first sites will be made available to homeseekers.