15 Jan Turning buildings into bird-friendly habitats
Buildings are important for several well-known bird species: swifts, house martins, swallows, house sparrows, starlings, barn owls and even peregrine falcons. In the past, birds have been able to exploit opportunities left by traditional building practices and imperfect workmanship. Nesting birds depend on particular features of buildings such as cavities and crevices and access into eaves. By working together, ecologists, architects and planners can ensure that new developments offer wildlife opportunities within new buildings.
BSG has experience of creating bird-friendly buildings, often as part of the ecology assessment for BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes.
Policy requirements increasingly encourage a biodiversity-driven approach to built development and many practical techniques allow opportunities for birds to be integrated within the design of new buildings, particularly if considered early in the design process; an integrated design is normally better than a retrofitted solution.
Key policy guidance includes: PPS 9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation, which states that a net gain in biodiversity, via enhancement, should be delivered through the planning system; and ‘Working with the Grain of Nature: A Biodiversity Strategy for England (DEFRA 2002)’, which states that biodiversity should be a fundamental consideration across all main sectors of public policy.
Incorporating biodiversity into development offers benefits to developers: it can increase the likelihood of securing planning approval; help engage the support of local communities; demonstrate corporate, social and environmental responsibility; and even help secure a unique selling point for development. It can also add value to BREEAM/Code for Sustainable Homes assessments.