New guide published to enhance and protect biodiversity within developments

The National House Building Council (NHBC) Foundation has partnered with RSPB and Barratt Developments to produce guidance on how the housebuilding industry can incorporate green infrastructure into new-build homes and enhance and protect biodiversity.

The ‘Biodiversity in new housing developments: creating wildlife-friendly communities’ report highlights that biodiversity should be considered at the earliest stages of planning new home developments to encourage wildlife and help reverse habitat decline.

The guide discusses key topics, including:

  • implementing sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) which mimics natural processes in managing rainfall through the use of landscape form and vegetation
  • installing roost bricks for bats and designing lighting plans in a bat-friendly way
  • putting in bird nest bricks that provide permanent nest features for declining species, such as swifts
  • ensuring boundaries enable hedgehogs to move freely through a housing development.

According to the NHBC, the coronavirus pandemic has placed emphasis on caring for local wildlife, in addition to the focus on reducing carbon emissions.

The latest National Biodiversity Network (NBNI) State of Nature report revealed that 58% of UK species have declined over the last 50 years, with urbanisation being quoted as one of the most significant pressures on UK nature.

The NHBC believes the climate change and decline of wildlife, combined with the government’s demand for greatly increasing housing supply, calls for housebuilders and developers to consider sustainability in housing schemes.

Beccy Speight, CEO at RSPB, said: “The housebuilding industry is uniquely placed in having an opportunity to create not just sustainable houses, but new, sustainable communities, where people thrive alongside wildlife. 

This guide is a great introduction to the principles and practicalities of creating wildlife-friendly communities and a great addition to the sustainable housing toolkit.

“I hope that the industry will embrace it and help to drive positive change, [as] we all have our part to play as we seek to revive our world.”

Richard Smith, head of standards, innovation and research at NHBC, added: “In a year so focused on health, this report is a timely reminder of the many benefits nature can provide when successfully integrated into new homes and developments.

“As we head towards COP26, we want to support those in the housing and construction sector to think more about how they can better integrate biodiversity and climate resilience into new home developments to help to achieve the country’s climate change goals and improve health and wellbeing in local communities. 

Biodiversity net gain will soon become mandatory in England so there’s no excuse not to start looking at these issues now.”

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