Redrow targets biodiversity ‘net gain’ at new developments

UK housebuilder Redrow has announced that a "net gain" approach to biodiversity will be adopted across all new developments, following a trial period that successfully enhanced the ecological land value of certain projects.

Redrow has been trialling ways to enhance biodiversity across select developments, with an aim in place to improve the ecological value of an area after project construction has been completed. Following successful trials at Caddington Woods in Bedfordshire and Saxon Brook in Exeter, the housebuilder has agreed to expand the initiative across all new developments.

“At Redrow we don’t just build homes, we strive to foster thriving communities, and promoting natural habitats and wildlife in an accessible way for residents is an integral part of this,” Redrow’s sustainability manager Nicola Johansen said.

“We have established important partnerships and initiatives in recent years relating to site ecology and wildlife. In order to entrench the importance of biodiversity across the business we are now taking the step of measuring biodiversity on our developments, to ensure we are having a positive impact and can make improvements where necessary.”

Redrow becomes one of the first UK housebuilders to attempt to achieve a net biodiversity gain across all developments, including homes, amenities and green spaces.

The company worked with the RSPB at Caddington Woods to transform the former 6,000-space car park to improve surrounding woodland areas. At Saxon Brook, Redrow has partnered with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to create pollinator-friendly habitats. Redrow is also building 950 homes at Ebbsfleet Garden City, the largest Healthy New Town Programme pilot.

In 2015, Redrow was the first housebuilder to be awarded WWF’s Three Trees status for sustainable timber use. The housebuilder has been awarded the status again this year, as part of a second assessment period.

New approaches

There are ongoing calls for the construction sector to champion approaches to biodiversity and natural capital. The concept of natural capital seeks to integrate ecosystem-oriented management with economic decision-making and development and some think tanks believe that it can be combined with conservation approaches to align business actions and environmental protection.

There are also specific cases of this type of approach leading to economic benefits. AECOM and National Grid found that an estimated £9,000 of natural capital improvements could be made per hectare on the land they assessed, driving a benefit-to-cost ratio of 8:1 over 30 years. 

Redrow’s announcement arrives at an interesting time for UK housebuilders. Last week, NextGeneration, which benchmarks the sustainability performance of the UK’s largest homebuilders, awarded Lendlease the top spot in its sustainability index. Redrow was ranked third in the report.

At a national level, the Clean Growth Strategy confirmed that all fuel-poor homes will be upgraded to EPC band C by 2030, while a sector deal with the construction industry following the new Industrial Strategy saw the industry pledge to halve emissions in the built environment by 2025.

Matt Mace

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