House-builders commit to bird boxes and hedgehog highways


Signatories to the Homes for Nature commitment will install a bird-nesting brick or box for every new home built, as well as hedgehog highways created as standard on every new low-rise development taken through planning from September 2024.

So far, 20 house-builders have signed up to the voluntary commitment, including Barratt, Persimmon Vistry, Taylor Wimpey and Redrow. (Full list below.)

The move is said to represent a major step towards providing the minimum of 300,000 nesting bricks and boxes thought to be required to support swift populations and many more bird species across the country.

In addition to integrated nest bricks, boxes and hedgehog highways, developers are encouraged to incorporate additional features, such as bat roosts, insect bricks and hibernacula.

Homes for Nature was developed by the industry-led On Site Nature Measures Working Group, convened by the Future Homes Hub, an independent organisation established to help the house-building sector address climate and environmental challenges.

The commitment is in addition to the recently implemented biodiversity net gain regulations, which require all new developments to achieve 10% more wildlife.

Ed Lockhart, chief executive of the Future Homes Hub, said: “Homes for Nature is a fantastic opportunity to create many more homes for wildlife, bring people closer to nature and at the same time provide a helping hand to some much-loved and critically endangered species.

“A commitment to installing integral nest bricks or boxes and creating hedgehog highways as standard is a simple but effective way to support our precious wildlife, including the iconic swift and hedgehog.”

The scheme comes into effect in September 2024 for all new planning applications. The initiative will run until at least 2030, with annual reporting to track progress and to identify further suitable measures that could be introduced to support other wildlife.

Becky Ingham, chief executive of Action for Swifts, said: “For centuries swifts have shared our buildings and homes by nesting in the nooks and crannnies of old style buildings. In recent years the loss of nesting sites has had a major detrimental effect on this Red-Listed species.

“It’s heartening to now see the commitment from so many major developers towards installing integral bricks, which will last the lifetime of the building and provide our Swifts and other cavity nesting birds with long-term habitat.”

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Jo Stott, associate director environmental sustainability at Miller Homes and chair of the working group, said: “Nature underpins our economy, provides the food, clean air and water we all need and yet everywhere it is under intense threat. Through Homes for Nature we are making a small change, but that small change could create a significant benefit for nature and for the people who come to live in the communities we develop.

“At Miller Homes, making Homes for Nature is part of our sustainability strategy ‘A Better Place’, but it’s truly exciting to be doing this as part of a much bigger sector initiative. Working together we can deliver really meaningful outcomes.”

The On Site Nature Measures Working Group is now working with organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Action for Swifts, Hedgehog Street, and the NHBC to develop the technical and customer guidance for installation of the nature measures across development sites.

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RSPB head of business conservation strategy Nigel Symes said: “We are delighted to have been asked to help to develop this initiative, which will make a huge difference for wildlife in the built environment. We know that these measures work, and are truly encouraged that the home building sector is coming together and committing to delivering them at scale. Meanwhile, providing for nature will, we are sure, create better places for people.”

The commitment currently applies to low rise houses only, with further work under way with industry to identify an appropriate nature positive approach for new apartments and high-rise buildings.

The house-builders who have signed the Homes for Nature commitment are:

  • Barratt Developments
  • Bellway             
  • Bloor Homes
  • Cala Homes
  • Crest Nicholson
  • Croudace Homes
  • Deanfield Homes
  • Duchy of Cornwall
  • Durkan Homes
  • Hayfield Homes    
  • Hopkins Homes
  • Keepmoat
  • Miller Homes
  • Orbit Homes
  • Persimmon
  • Redrow
  • Strata Homes
  • Taylor Wimpey
  • Thakeham
  • Vistry Group.



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