Biodiversity, or more specifically, increasing biodiversity, is a significant focus of the UK government, and one that housebuilders have a growing responsibility to support. In the near future, developers will be obliged to use DEFRA’s biodiversity metric to demonstrate any planned development will enrich the diversity and rarity of species on a site by 10% (this is also known as ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’, or BNG). Such is the importance placed on BNG, failure to sufficiently demonstrate the plan may result in planning permission being refused.
The legal requirement for BNG may not come into force for another year or so, but local housebuilder, Grace Homes, is already working hard to improve biodiversity at a local level. One of its current developments in Nether Broughton near Melton Mowbray is a good example of how this business is creating positive spaces for the natural world.
“We have always taken our ecological responsibilities very seriously, but as biodiversity considerations have grown in importance, we’ve been looking at different ways to build this into our developments. In Nether Broughton we have enhanced the area around an existing pond by creating a pair of hibernacula (underground chambers for hibernating creatures to shelter them from bad weather and protect them from predators). We have also planted up an ecological corridor and added newt-friendly kerbs to allow the existing wildlife to move about freely and safely.
“Every development differs in terms of what is required. In the same way that we build homes that are best-suited to their surroundings, when we are considering our ecological responsibilities, it is definitely not a case of one size fits all. We work closely with ecological consultants to make sure our approach is finely tuned to the environment that we are working in. For instance, we may create a pond or wild meadows in one location, but in another we may have more of a focus on creating a new badger sett or adding in new habitats for bats. Wherever possible, we look to go above and beyond what is required.”