Help for the Housebuilding Industry to Lead on Biodiversity

Biodiversity Foundation Report - housebuilding

A NEW GUIDE highlights that biodiversity should be considered at the earliest stages of housebuilding to encourage wildlife and help reverse habitat decline.

Climate change and the decline of wildlife are the great challenges of our time. This, combined with Government demands for greatly increased housing supply, means a balancing act is required from housebuilders and developers. Sustainability must be a key consideration in housing developments. Housebuilding must consider biodiversity to ensure a positive impact on wildlife and the adoption of nature-based solutions.

Housebuilding Biodiversity

Much of the focus on sustainable housing in recent years has been in reducing carbon emissions. But the coronavirus pandemic has placed emphasis on caring for local wildlife.

  • The majority of house-buyers say the pandemic has highlighted the need for more nature-rich green space.
  • The UK Prime Minister recently said he will make “tackling climate change and biodiversity loss” the government’s “number one international priority”.

Over the past 50 years, 58% of UK species have declined. Urbanisation is considered one of the key reasons why. The National House Building Council (NHBC) Foundation has partnered with the RSPB and Barratt Developments to produce guidance on how the housebuilding industry can incorporate green infrastructure into new build homes. And how biodiversity can be enhanced and protected in developments to deliver wider public health benefits.

The new report Biodiversity in new housing developments: creating wildlife-friendly communities provides guidance on planning for beautiful places, key topics include:

  • Implementing Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) which mimic 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.

Thriving wildlife

Beccy Speight, CEO, 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. We all have our part to play as we seek to revive our world.”

Pointing to the timeliness of the report, Richard Smith, NHBC’s Head of Standards, Innovation and Research added:“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.”

>> Read more about the NHBC Foundation in the news

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