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Biodiversity in new housing developments: creating wildlife-friendly communities (NF89)

Biodiversity in new housing developments: creating wildlife-friendly communities 

Published 27 April 2021

Climate change is the challenge of our time and this, combined with the Government demands for volume house building is a balancing act that all house builders and developers must consider. It’s essential that housing developments are built sustainably, have a positive impact on wildlife and adopt nature-based solutions as we transition to a sustainable future.  

Working with nature 

Biodiversity in new housing developments: creating wildlife-friendly communities is the latest report commissioned by the NHBC Foundation, with the support of the RSPB and Barratt Developments. It demonstrates how the house-building industry is uniquely placed in having an opportunity to create not just houses, but sustainable communities, where people thrive alongside wildlife. 

A sustainable future 

Much of the focus on ‘sustainable housing’ is on reducing carbon emissions, however, appropriately designed green infrastructure also plays an important role in the sustainability agenda. 

The report combines design concepts, practical solutions and best practice case studies that place ecosystems at the centre of the house-building process. It looks in detail at building new homes in a sustainable way that enhances wildlife, develops climate resilience, and improves people’s health and wellbeing. 

This report is a guide to the practicalities of building new homes in a sustainable way that enhances wildlife, develops climate resilience and improves people’s health and wellbeing. 

Free webinar

For an introduction to the principles and practicalities of creating wildlife-friendly communities, sign up to our Biodiversity in new housing developments webinar on Wednesday 12 May 2021.

Summary of content

This publication contains nine sections:

1 Introduction
1.1 Why should the housing development sector work with nature?
1.2 Place-making
1.3 Implementation costs
1.4 Environmental drivers
1.5 Where is working with nature appropriate?

2 Benefits to people of wildlife friendly developments

3 Managing Impacts of development on existing wildlife and their habitats, and means of  remediation
3.1 Ecological site assessment and net gain
3.2 The mitigation hierarchy
3.3 Master planning
3.4 Design
3.5 Groundworks
3.6 Incorporating, enhancement and care for existing biodiversity features

4 Boundaries, buffers and connectivity
4.1 Hedges
4.2 Fences and walls
4.3 Heritage boundaries
4.4 Verges
4.5 Incorporating biodiverse SuDS into verges

5 Sustainable drainage and urban water catchment
5.1 Bioretention beds and filter strips
5.2 Conveyances
5.3 Wetland features: Detention Basins, Balancing Ponds
5.4 Detention basins
5.5 Balancing ponds
5.6 Rain gardens

6 Planting for wildlife and climate resilience
6.1 Topsoil and landscaping
6.2 Structural landscapes
6.3 Biodiversity and tree and shrub planting
6.4 Creating biodiverse grasslands
6.5 Planting and managing for climate resilience
6.6 Adaptation of planting to survive increasing temperatures

7 Adaptive use of existing structures and materials for wildlife enhancement
7.1 Structures and hard landscape features,
7.2 Soft landscape features using repurposed materials
7.3 Replicating Brownfield features

8 Buildings and providing for wildlife
8.1 Nest sites for birds
8.2 Roost features for bats
8.3 Green roofs

9 Case studies
9.1 Intensive and extensive green roofs
9.2 Retaining and integrating habitats in a country park setting
9.3 Informing homeowners
9.4 Integral bird and bat bricks and hedgehog highways in new developments
9.5 Ensuring boundaries enable hedgehogs to move through a housing development
9.6 Delivering biodiversity in gardens
9.7 Hibernacula creation
9.8 Protecting and mitigating heritage and wildlife features
9.9 Connecting riverine habitats in partnership
9.10 Delivering complete Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)

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