New neighbours welcome … the wilder the better
MOST home owners would despair at the prospect of swifts roosting in the eaves or house martins building muddy nests on their soffits.
But residents of a new development near Aylesbury, Bucks, have been encouraged to share their homes with wildlife in a scheme that could change the future of housing in Britain.
The homes have been built with “swift bricks”, bat and sparrow boxes and house martin cups, while gardens are being planted with native shrubs to attract bees, help hedgehogs and encourage insects.
The £81million, 1,000acre Kingsbrook site in Broughton includes 2,450 homes, but has been designed so animals can move freely throughout the residential areas with wildlife corridors of hedges, strips of wild flower grassland or gaps in fences and walls.
In addition to ponds, parks, meadows and orchards, there is even a na- ture reserve with a shallow bay to encourage invertebrates. And rather than channelling rain into underground pipes, it is directed along “rills” and “swales” on the surface, allowing natural wetlands to develop, which are a haven for wildlife and help prevent flooding.
The site is peppered with “hop points” to allow bats to cross busy roads safely, a loggery to encourage stag beetles, dragonfly perches and vertical banks into which sand martins and kingfishers can dig nests.
Nigel Symes, business advice manager at the RSPB, which has worked closely with developers Barratt and David Wilson Homes for the past seven years, said: “This was a greenfield site so we wanted to make sure there would be no net loss of wildlife because of the development and, ideally, make the environment even more wildlife-rich than before.”
Jo Alden, technical director at Barratt, said: “Unusually for a new development there is a lot of open space, around 50 per cent of the site is green space. We’ve had great feedback so far. One woman told us she had moved in specifically because the house was designed to attract swifts. This is definitely a unique site in Britain. Other developers have done similar things but nothing on this scale.”