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15/01/2018

Guidelines for people and wildlife published

Words: Laura Edgar
Nature-friendly homes / Shutterstock_282786506

The Wildlife Trusts has published new guidelines that aim to show how new housing developments can be built in a way that gives people ‘green, inspirational’ homes that help to reverse decades of wildlife and habitat decline.

The guidelines come as the government looks to build 300,000 homes a year, a commitment announced in November 2017’s Autumn Budget.

For The Wildlife Trusts, the natural environment must be “at the heart of planning” to give the government a chance of meeting its commitment to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it found it as well as to build new homes and communities that people enjoy living in.

The charity wants the focus on the number of new homes to be replaced by a visionary approach to where and how the country builds.

Rachel Hackett, living landscapes development manager for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “A huge challenge lies ahead – thousands of new houses are to be built yet we need to restore the natural world. We’re calling on the government and local authorities to build beautiful, nature-friendly communities in the right places.”

She highlighted that over the past century, natural habitats have been lost on an “unprecedented scale”, yet nature has its own “innate value” – it makes people happy and people depend on what it gives.

“Our new guidelines show that it is possible to have both, so people can enjoy birdsong, reap the benefits of rain gardens which soak up floodwater, and plants that bees and other pollinators need to survive. With good design the costs of doing this are a tiny proportion of the overall cost of a housing development, but represent a big investment for the future.”

Homes for People and Wildlife – How to Build Housing in a Nature-Friendly Way highlights the benefits of a nature-friendly approach to delivering the homes required.

These include better protection for wildlife sites, wildlife-friendly buildings, daily contact for residents with nature, improved health for residents, cost-effective environmental protection – and developers would have satisfied customers.

Hackett said: “We should prioritise places for new housing that are already well served by infrastructure. We should avoid destroying wildlife sites and locate new houses in places where they can help to restore the landscape and aid natural recovery. It’s possible to create nature-friendly housing by planting wildlife-rich community green spaces, walkways, gardens, verges, roofs, wetlands and other natural features. These gains for wildlife improve people’s health and quality of life too.”

Homes for People and Wildlife – How to Build Housing in a Nature-Friendly Way can be found on the Wildlife Trusts website.

Image credit | Shutterstock

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