28 Jun 2024

Why it's more important than ever to create Homes for Nature

Future Homes Hub has launched Homes for Nature, a commitment from housebuilders to install a swift or bird nesting brick for every new home built, along with hedgehog highways as standard on all new developments.

Jo Stott, Associate Environmental Sustainability Director, Miller Homes, explains why it’s more important than ever to create Homes for Nature.

It's timely that the launch of the Homes for Nature commitment coincides with Swift Awareness Week.

The red-listed swift, whose numbers in the UK have halved between 1995 and 2017, has become a symbol of the urgent need to protect and restore our declining wildlife populations. 

This initiative, led by the Future Homes Hub, is a positive step towards reversing that worrying trend, which has seen the UK becoming one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.
The statistics paint a grim picture: pollinator populations, essential for our food supply, are in steep decline; hedgehog numbers have dropped significantly; bird populations are dwindling and habitats are deteriorating. 

Yet, there's hope. The Restore Nature Now march, which drew thousands of people to London’s streets on 22nd June, underscores public concern and recognition of nature's value and the urgent need for action.

That's why I'm delighted that 20 leading housebuilders, who between them build more than 90,000 homes a year, have united to develop and sign up to the Homes for Nature commitment. 

The commitment highlights the vital role housebuilders can play in creating sustainable, nature-friendly spaces. Often seen as part of the problem, housebuilders can be the driving force behind solutions that make a real impact.

The Homes for Nature commitment includes:

  • One bird-nesting brick or box for every new home built

  • Hedgehog highways on all developments as standard

  • A recommendation to include bat roosts, insect bricks, nature-friendly sustainable drainage systems and landscaping that supports pollinators

  • The commitment is a five year initiative with annual reporting and reviews and applies to all new development proposals from September 2024

Developed by the On-Site Nature Measures Working Group, convened by the Future Homes Hub, we are now working on the technical guidance with input from organisations such as the RSPB, Action for Swifts, Hedgehog Society, and the NHBC.

Our commitment is just one step on a long journey to restore nature. There is much to do. However, as well as going beyond Biodiversity Net Gain requirements, it's important to acknowledge the extensive work that has gone into creating the commitment over the last nine months.

We are committed to following up with signatories, while open and regular reporting will help to ensure these promises translate into real-world changes.

The impact of these efforts could be profound. By providing more nesting sites for birds, we can help species like the swift recover. Creating access points through gardens and open spaces will help hedgehogs find food, safety, and mates. The vision is a future where nature thrives alongside people, becoming the norm rather than the exception.

This is a call to action. If you work for a housebuilder that has not yet signed up, encourage them to make the commitment to build Homes for Nature. At an individual level, install bird boxes at home or ensure your garden is accessible to hedgehogs, every small action counts.

Together, we can create a future where both people and nature flourish.

For more information or to join the commitment, visit www.futurehomes.org.uk/homes-for-nature.