Somerset Wildlife Trust

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New guidelines published to support the provision of 'Homes for People and Wildlife'.

 11th Jan 2018

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Somerset Wildlife Trust to use newly launched Wildlife Trust guidelines to help secure the provision of nature-friendly, inspirational homes and developments in Taunton, and put wildlife back into our towns’ natural places and green spaces 

11th January 2018 – Today marks the launch of a new report by the Wildlife Trusts called Homes for people and wildlife - how to build housing in a nature-friendly way’ at a time when the Government has recently committed to building a further 300,000 homes a year until 2022. This means that about 36 square miles will be given over to new housing developments annually (*that’s an area larger than Brighton & Hove every year). 

The Wildlife Trusts believe that the natural environment must be put at the heart of planning in order to give the government a chance of meeting its commitment to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it - and to build new homes and communities that people enjoy living in.

Rachel Hackett, Living Landscapes Development Manager for The Wildlife Trusts says:

“A huge challenge lies ahead – thousands of new houses are to be built yet we also desperately 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 to reverse the loss of natural habitats that has occurred over the last century. Nature has its own innate value.  It also makes us happy and we depend on the things that it gives us. Our new guidelines show that it’s possible for both ambitions to co-exist. With good design and planning, the costs of achieving this are a small proportion of the overall cost of a housing development - but represent a big investment for the future.”

The Wildlife Trusts are calling for the current focus on numbers of new homes to be replaced by a visionary approach to where and how we build.

Rachel Hackett continues:  “We should prioritise places for new housing that are already well served by infrastructure, avoid destroying wildlife sites, and locate new houses in places where it 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.”

Jolyon Chesworth, Nature & Wellbeing Manager at Somerset Wildlife Trust who also leads on the Trust’s Taunton Garden Town programme adds: 

“The design and build of our own county’s urban areas has a massive influence on the quality of life for those who live and work there. High quality design can increase the desirability of an area, boost the local economy through jobs and tourism, increase health and wellbeing, foster community pride and benefit the natural environment. Poor quality design can, and does, have the opposite effect, creating unnecessary problems that can be costly to fix.  We are really pleased to see the guidelines launched and hope that councils, planners and developers continue to talk to us.

“Up to 13,000 new homes are planned for Taunton over the next ten years. This scale of house building can bring massive challenges to infrastructure, existing and new communities and of course our urban wildlife. However, if done right and the guidelines published today are followed, large developments can positively contribute to the nature on our doorstep and our quality of life. With Taunton now being a Garden Town, now is the time to start building in a nature and people friendly way.”

The Wildlife Trusts’ blueprint for new nature-friendly homes highlights the myriad of social, environmental and economic benefits of this approach:

Benefits for wildlife – better protection for wildlife sites, more space for wildlife, improved connectivity and buildings that are more wildlife-friendly

Benefits for residents – daily contact with nature, improved health, protection against climate extremes, safer transport routes, good sense of community

Benefits for the economy and wider society – cost-effective environmental protection, employment, space to grow local food, healthier and happier communities putting less pressure on health and social services

Benefits for developers – satisfied customers, market value, enhanced brand, improved recruitment, improved environmental ranking

Every year Wildlife Trusts work to influence local authority planners and respond to thousands of planning applications to benefit wildlife and people alike. We also work in partnership with developers to influence the landscape design in and around new developments such as at Cambourne in Cambridgeshire and Woodberry Wetlands in London.  ‘Homes for people and wildlife - how to build housing in a nature-friendly way’ and case studies can be read here from 11th January (until then you can read a high res version here or low-res version here.)

For more information about Somerset Wildlife Trusts Taunton Garden town work (funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery) please visit this web page for more information:  http://www.somersetwildlife.org/Garden_town

Click here to read the new guidelines.