Landsec launches nature strategy, going beyond biodiversity net-gain requirements

Pictured: An artist's impression of Landsec's Mayfield mixed-use project in Manchester

The business’s new nature strategy that aims to deliver a range of nature-led benefits across its urban spaces, led by three core principles which will apply across its current and future assets.

These core principles include improving biodiversity, promoting health, wellbeing and community engagement, as well as creating nature-based solutions to provide ecosystem services such as permeability, cooling and air purification.

Landsec’s head of sustainability Jennie Colville said: “The quality and amount of nature in urban places has been neglected in recent years because of population growth, industrialisation and the development needed to meet modern society’s needs.

“To build the cities we need for the future, we must change our approach to urbanisation in a way that enables people and nature to co-exist, while creating jobs and fuelling economic growth.

“If cities don’t embrace this change, they risk losing out on valuable talent, growth and vitality, while remaining vulnerable to the intensifying impacts of climate change.”

A deeper dive into the strategy

Last month, the UK Government rolled out its Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) policy, requiring all major housing developments in England to deliver biodiversity net-gain of at least 10%.

Landsec aims to go beyond the current guidelines with its new strategy, committing to an additional 10% increase to its existing BNG targets.

Moreover, for future developments, Landsec will aim to achieve 20% BNG on sites with existing ‘greening’ and ensure the development of two biodiversity units per hectare for sites with ‘no greening’.

The property developer has also created 15 core nature requirements that will form the basis of its development process, with an aim to embed nature within its operational and standing assets.

These requirements will provide guidance on which types of green interventions are required. The guidance has also been incorporated into Landsec’s sustainable development toolkits, which are used by its development teams and external partners to ensure sustainability is considered throughout the design and construction of its projects.

Additionally, Landsec has created nature action plans (NAPs) for every operational asset under its control across the company, following a portfolio-wide ecological assessment that provides a list of opportunities for improvement on each site.

A Nature Handbook has also been developed by Landsec to guide site teams and landscapers on design and implementation factors such as appropriate species and positioning.

The company will use the ‘Environmental Benefits from Nature’ tool, created by Natural England and the University of Oxford, to evaluate the health, wellbeing and community benefits it has created through improving nature across its developments.

Landsec aims to report on progress for operational assets every two years, while for future developments, progress will be updated on a project-by-project basis via ecological surveys.

A thirst for green spaces

A recent Landsec survey of almost 1,200 adults in the UK found that nearly 55% of people living and working in cities plan to leave in the future, with a third (33%) aiming to relocate in the next ten years.

The top reasons cited by the respondents include access to more nature and green space (34%), access to fresher air (33%) and to be closer to family and friends (24%).

The survey results underscore the importance of prioritising nature as one of the core focal points of urban developments, with approximately 94% of respondents placing some level of importance on nature access.

Almost four in ten respondents (39%) named inclusion of green space and more trees, plants and wildlife as the biggest priority for developers in new building developments – only behind transport links (41%).

Moreover, more than four-fifths (84%) of residents surveyed believe that their cities should be doing more to prepare for climate change. These cities include London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Cardiff.

Recent research, commissioned by the Mayor of London, found that London remains unprepared in the face of climate-induced hazards.

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    The programme of building parks, to increase the green spaces in London was undertaken in order not only for itself, but to provide work in the years after WW1.
    This was highly successful and gives the multitude of parks which we have today.
    It would be nice see this interest in public works today, but I fear that such interests are not top of todays’ expenditure programmes, we are, as population, much more mobile today.

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