Feature

Barratt developments and the RSPB

Together we are on a journey to help build homes in a nature-friendly way and inspire homeowners to help wildlife thrive, while demonstrating to decision-makers what is needed to respond to the nature and climate emergencies.

A garden border with a sign reading 'Wildlife Pond'.
On this page

Building a better future with Barratt Developments PLC

Together we are on a journey to help build homes in a nature-friendly way and inspire homeowners to help wildlife thrive, while demonstrating to decision-makers what is needed to respond to the nature and climate emergencies.

Why we’re working together

Nature is in crisis and facing huge challenges in the UK. But we know that in some areas we also need space for new houses to provide homes for all of us.  

That’s why we work with Barratt Developments PLC (comprising Barratt Homes, Barratt London and David Wilson Homes) to find ways to make new housing developments better places for wildlife and for people.

This partnership also helps to showcase our work to the wider sector and to inspire homeowners to welcome nature into their own outdoor spaces. 

We believe working together is the best way to drive change that will really benefit nature.

Three people in high visibility vests and hard hats, talking and holding two swift bricks.

A partnership breaking new ground

The RSPB-Barratt partnership brings together our expertise as Europe’s largest conservation charity with the UK’s largest housebuilder. Our work together is wide-reaching and covers three main areas:   

  • Sharing expertise: Combining our knowledge, experience, and expertise means we can innovate and develop new ways of working to build new homes and developments that make space for nature and wildlife.  
  • Inspiring homeowners: With Barratt’s support, we provide homeowners with top tips, advice and expert guides to help them create gardens and other outdoor spaces that are good for them and for wildlife too.
  • Driving change: By showing that nature-friendly developments are possible and can become the norm, we work to inspire change throughout the wider housebuilding sector and with government, both local and national. 

What the partnership is doing for nature

We’ve been busy putting our partnership into practice. Here’s what we’ve been up to

Building thousands of homes with nature in mind.

The Kingsbrook development at Aylesbury is our biggest project so far. Barratt is building 2,450 new homes there and we are working with Barratt and Buckinghamshire Council to incorporate nature into the development. This includes retaining many of the old hedgerows and fields, creating hedgehog highways, providing hundreds of integral swift and bat boxes, as well as using pollinator and insect-friendly planting.

The development is retaining up to 60% greenspace, which includes new wetlands to slow rainwater run-off, orchards, wildflower meadows and wildflower verges. The good news is the project is working: there is evidence the first ‘village’ of 600 homes is already providing for wildlife, including Red-Listed house sparrows rising in breeding pairs from two to 147 and bees more than doubling in number according to the surveys we carried out in 2021 versus 2015.

A patch of wildflowers in the foreground with a house and parked car in the background.

Working for more nature-friendly homes

We have been working strategically to guide Barratt’s practices to become more nature-friendly. This has included: jointly developing a landscape handbook, piloting Species Action Plans at three Barratt Divisions, developing and including hedgehog highways as standard, installing thousands of swift bricks and much much more.

We have also given site-specific advice at a number of locations resulting in but not limited to: the creation of 200 acres of wildlife-friendly grassland in Bedford, creating hibernacula (winter homes) for lizards using waste building materials in Essex, and co-designed a development that we hope will attract willow tit, turtle dove and other threatened bird species in North Yorkshire.

Encouraging change within industry and Government

We showcase the learnings from our partnership to drive change in the wider housebuilding industry and in Government. For example, we have created a guide to nature-friendly housing, working with the National House Building Council. This is intended to be used by the wider industry to create more homes that are resilient to climate change, good for wildlife and for people.

We also hold MP visits to Kingsbrook and use this exemplar site as a fantastic case study for nature-friendly housing development. For example, we included Kingsbrook in the RSPB’s response to the Government’s 2020 Planning White Paper (Planning for the Future). Attending and presenting at conferences allows us to meet landscapers and other professionals, sharing experiences and successes.

A Swift soaring in an urban environment.

Inspiring communities to make space for nature

We’ve been working together to inspire more people to do great things for wildlife where they live. Our gardens, backyards and balconies can be brilliant places for wildlife, and together make up a huge area of the UK where our birds, bees and butterflies can thrive.

So, with Barratt as our sponsor, we’ve created Nature on Your Doorstep – a one stop shop of handy tips, expert tricks and easy to follow guides to making your outdoor space work for you and nature. There is a new online space on the RSPB website, which is home to all the information you need, including a step-by-step garden makeover guide and a gardening guide especially for balconies and small spaces. There is also a Facebook community group to join and share ideas and success stories.

A lone Crested Tit perched on a moss covered branch.

Celebrating our success

Our partnership has already won awards, including the What House silver award for best partnership scheme and a BIG biodiversity challenge award for show home designs. We have also picked up the Corporate Engagement award for best sustainable programme and a prestigious RSPCA animal hero award.

About our Partner

Supported by in-house biodiversity and sustainability teams, Barratt’s vision is to become the leading sustainable housebuilder in the UK.

In addition to the partnership with the RSPB, Barratt has made some encouraging commitments to building sustainably: 

  • Committing to biodiversity net gain on new planning applications before it becomes statutory in November 2023.
  • Making all their new homes net zero by 2030. 
  • Achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. 
  • Making 100% of Barratt’s own electricity renewable by 2025.
  • Barratt has also created a unique new zero carbon concept home that showcases the future of sustainable living in the UK called the Zed house. Read more about their Zed house of the future here

Barratt has been awarded a Next Generation Gold Award for 6 years in a row, putting it consistently at the top end of this annual sustainability benchmark for UK housebuilders.

Bukky Bird, Group Sustainability Director at Barratt Developments plc says: “We have worked with the RSPB since 2014 to help give nature a home on our developments. It has been a great success, with both organisations learning a lot about the mutual need to build homes for both nature and people. We work continuously to support wildlife on our developments with small things like installing swift boxes, hedgehog highways and bug hotels, and also on the critical things needed to prioritise existing habitats and building in as much open space as possible. We have plenty more to do, but our goal is that by 2023 we have at least 10% more wildlife habitats in and around our developments, delivering a clear biodiversity net gain across the country.”

Share this article