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Natural England, a government body in charge of protecting wildlife, is drafting proposals on how developers such as Countryside deal with protected species on and near their developments.

The importance of creating habitat ‘havens’ for wildlife - by Andrew Carrington

Under European Law, construction would normally have to wait until expert ecologists have surveyed habitats, and granted any necessary licenses for moving any rare or protected species. The proposed new legislation, according to Natural England will “shift the focus away from protecting animals on development sites and towards improving populations in the wider local area.”

At Countryside it’s not just home buyers that we look to create great places for; creating natural habitats for wildlife to thrive can also form an important part of place making. We believe that through providing the right habitats for wildlife helps to create inspiring natural outdoor spaces that in turn makes for better places to live. In order to achieve this, we work alongside ecological specialists, landscape consultants and our own in-house landscape team to create a wide variety of places where species can flourish.

Seeing how a wide variety of birds, reptiles, insects and mammals have thrived alongside some of our largest development activities is arguably the best way of judging the success of this approach. For example, at Wickhurst Green near Horsham, a develoment of nearly 1,000 homes, our ecological measures developed in partnership with AECOM have seen wildlife flourish. Through the creation of balancing ponds, a variety of shelters and numerous bird and bat boxes, together with a bat house, the great crested newts, slow worms and several types of bats and birds are really making themselves at home.

Similarly, rare species of birds have now made their home at our Kingsmere development on the edge of Bicester. A recent survey carried out by our consultant ecologist Jeff Picksley revealed the number and types of birds at the development is flourishing. Most notably, two lapwing pairs - a species which is currently in decline - have been spotted, both with young chicks. Other species enjoying the fertile environment include mistle thrushes, reed buntings, as well as scarcer breeding species such as skylarks, yellowhammer and grey partridge, and a growing population of bats and butterfly species.

We have also incorporated our ecological work into public art works at Great Kneighton a development of 2,550 homes in Cambridge. As part of our public arts programme, two hand-crafted bird screens designed by artist Nils Norman have been erected next to the wetland in the new 120-acre country park (pictured above). Small insect boxes and bird boxes have been designed to fit discreetly into the front of both screens. The Great Kneighton Country Park itself will feature acres of woodland, together with four ponds, one of which forms a 50,000m² bird reserve. The bird reserve is proving very popular and is home to a wide range of birds, including lapwings, common terns, mallards, coots, corn buntings, little ringed plovers, grey partridges and moorhens.

The presence of wildlife, whether in an urban or rural environment, can help enhance residents’ quality of life, as well as improving the quality of the landscape and natural environment within and surrounding our developments. Done well this can help the early establishment of new communities and the creation of places where people quickly feel at home.

Find out more about how Countryside encourages wildlife at its developments in our latest Sustainability Report.

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Andrew Carrington,
Managing Director - Strategic Land

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About this blog

Here you’ll find property related blog articles from the team at Countryside as well as independent experts. Expect regular tips and advice on topics such as buying a new home, interior and landscape design, setting up home, mortgages and finance, plus articles on architecture, the property market, regeneration and more.

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