Housebuilder unveils Urban Wildlife Strategy to be rolled out in Thames region

Cala Homes Thames has launched its Urban Wildlife Strategy, outlining its intention to incorporate biodiversity improvement measures into every new home in the region.

A 2021 study[1] estimated that the UK has lost almost half of its native biodiversity. Cala Homes Urban Wildlife Strategy, a first for the Cala Group devised by its Thames region, creates a design framework that establishes a biodiversity standard for every new home. The Urban Wildlife Strategy supplements the region’s objective for all sites to achieve biodiversity net gain and will be in addition to other planning requirements.

Developed in collaboration with local wildlife groups, including the Hampshire Swifts and Hampshire Ornithological Society, the strategy recommends simple and effective interventions, recognising that urban environments can be wildlife rich by incorporating diverse habitat and nesting opportunities into the fabric and outside space of each home. The Urban Wildlife Strategy means every home will have bird nesting features, specialist hedgehog fencing, bat boxes or bat roosting tiles and native tree planting.

John Richards, land & planning director for Cala Homes Thames, says: “We’re moving into an important time where we must transition from environmental goal setting to taking action.

“We’re passionate about seizing every opportunity to enhance biodiversity in all new developments, and this strategy will apply to each and every home in our region.

“I’m grateful to the Hampshire Ornithological Society and Hampshire Swifts who have provided valuable insight and expertise throughout the development of this strategy, which supports the creation of nest sites and habitats. A network of interventions will ensure that our new developments play their part in delivering diverse ecosystems for species such as swifts, bats, bees and hedgehogs to help them thrive in urban areas.”

The first development within the Thames region to be fully adopting the strategy will be the second phase of Finchampstead, Berkshire – which was granted consent last year. Cala is delivering 135 new homes as part of the second phase of the wider 1,500-home development, which will also deliver a primary school, allotments, a neighbourhood centre, and a sports hub.

Keith Betton, chair of the Hampshire Ornithological Society, says: “We often undervalue the importance of our gardens to wildlife. There are over 23 million gardens in the UK, and in many local areas they’re the sole source of habitat for wildlife. It’s fantastic to see Cala has taken this into consideration and drawn up this plan.

“So much of our wildlife has suffered in recent years; swifts have declined across the UK by more than 50%, hedgehog numbers have fallen by about 50% since 2000, as have the number of bats. We must remember the value of insects too – they are important food for birds and bats. By launching this plan, Cala is throwing a lifeline to many types of wildlife and providing an opportunity for nature to exist alongside us.”

Cala Homes aims to formulate a strategy and action plan to enhance biodiversity across all sites by the end of this year. Cala has also made a commitment to building homes that are operationally net zero enabled by 2030 and reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Scottish Government’s 2045 target and ahead of UK Government’s 2050 target. The business is currently finalising ambitious science-based targets, validated by the Science-Based Targets Initiative.

To read the Urban Wildlife Strategy,

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