building for biodiversity

Building biodiversity
net gain into housing
A guide for developers looking to deliver biodiversity net gain and generate environmental, economic and social benefits through their proposals
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the uk’s BIODIVERSITY and housing crises

The UK is in the midst of a housing and biodiversity crisis

Through the Environment Bill, housing developers will be handed the opportunity to play a fundamental role in improving the UK’s environment while addressing the country’s crippling housing shortage.

340,000 houses must be built annually in order to address the UK’s housing shortage. If not handled correctly this level of construction has the potential to cause significant damage to the habitats on which the UK’s wildlife depends.

However – if done right – measures taken to meet the emerging Environment Bill will enable developers to enrich the environment and protect these species as they build much-needed new communities.

This is a golden opportunity for developers to show that the natural environment can be improved because of new development – not despite it.

a mandate for net gain

Biodiversity net gain set to become law

Already a requirement in the National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance, the new Environment Bill will mandate for an increase, or “net gain”, in biodiversity across new developments.

If house-builders do not make their projects compliant with net gain requirements, they risk costly delays to their projects as those that do not improve biodiversity are sent back to the drawing board.


How to effectively build biodiversity net gain into housing

Property value

Developers that respond to consumer expectations around biodiversity and the environment through their projects will also benefit from the substantial sales premium that results from well-planned green space near homes. Accessible, high quality green and blue space adds the equivalent of £77.9 billion to the value of UK housing stock.

The report explains why house builders, urban designers and master planners must work with skilled ecologists to plan for net gain at an early stage in the design process to guarantee they add ecological and financial value to their projects.

Measuring biodiversity

The metrics put forward as the primary means for developers to measure and monitor biodiversity are built on generalised assumptions of the importance of habitats, that, in many cases, fail to adequately take into account factors such as the wildlife that rely on them.

The report explores the issues caused by relying on the proposed metrics, and outlines what developers need to do to overcome their limitations and add real ecological value to their sites.

Net gain strategy

Taking a strategic approach to biodiversity net gain has significant benefits for both local wildlife and house builders. The Environment Bill envisages requiring Local Authorities to create a 'Local Nature Recovery Strategy' that will sit alongside their Local Plans, and anything done to improve biodiversity that is within a strategically important area will equate to additional value added in DEFRA’s biodiversity metric.

The report outlines how developers can increase biodiversity both on and off site, improving spaces for wildlife and people whilst increasing the value of the country's housing stock.

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