New neigh­bours wel­come … the wilder the bet­ter

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Sarah Knap­ton SCI­ENCE ED­I­TOR

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.”

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