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Habitat First Group developments receive top award for Building with Nature

building with nature

The UK’s first certification scheme for green infrastructure was launched on 9 November 2017. In this article we find out more about two developments that have received accreditation under the scheme… 

The UK’s first benchmark for green infrastructure has recognised the outstanding efforts of Habitat First Group’s commitment to building alongside nature. Both Lower Mill Estate in the Cotswolds and Silverlake in Dorset are the first developments in the UK to receive the highest standard of accreditation from Building with Nature.

The Building with Nature benchmark supports planners and house builders to get the most out of new development for people and wildlife. It does this by securing natural features in the design and maintenance of places, such as play areas, street trees, parks, allotments and ponds. It is the first benchmark of its kind in the UK and is already being used by Persimmon Homes and Bloor Homes among others. The benchmark covers three key themes – wildlife, water and wellbeing.

Habitat First Group pioneered this approach to building alongside nature over 20 years ago and have continued to lead the field showing that ecology, architecture and community can exist in harmony and flourish together. The highest level of recognition from Building with Nature is a great reflection of this dedication and commitment from Habitat First Group.

Building with Nature has been developed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the University of West of England and a wide range of stakeholders from the built environment, including planners, developers, construction professionals, landscape architects, ecologists and public health specialists. Building with Nature is being extended through a network of Wildlife Trusts and other non-governmental organisations across the UK.

Focussing on the three themes of wellbeing, water and wildlife highlighted within the Building with Nature standards, Dr Gemma Jerome, Building with Nature Manager says:

“Habitat First Group has been recognised for their successful approach to creating sustainable places which are good for people and wildlife. At both Lower Mill Estate and Silverlake, they place access to natural greenspace for the benefit of people at the heart of their approach to design and build. Their schemes make space for nature by creating habitat areas where protected species can flourish, and wetland areas where surface water runoff from the development can be held at the surface and close to where people live. This provides additional habitat and fantastic areas for recreation, as well as creating a beautiful setting to relax and play.”

Dr Phoebe Carter, Chief Ecologist for Habitat First Group states that:

“Our developments take every opportunity to benefit nature. By taking old quarry sites and turning them into wildlife and species-rich habitats, we are able to make a really positive impact on UK wildlife. We now have the largest known colony of House martins in the UK at Lower Mill Estate and we have just installed 150 bird boxes aimed at helping struggling populations of House sparrows .”

Both Lower Mill Estate and Silverlake are home to a range of protected species and habitats that are carefully managed to ensure their ongoing survival.