Robin Swailes, director of Robin Swailes Design and Development, describes how he was inspired by the Oxford Swift City Project to add some extra accommodation to a new scheme.
Housing developers are often accused of putting profit before the environment in which they are working.
Ecologists fight tooth and nail to protect nesting sites and the natural ecology of birds while all the while demand for affordable housing is increasing and green belts come under increasing pressure.
As someone who builds short-let accommodation and commercial property in Oxford, I can see both sides of the story but feel that with thought and sensitivity, we can work together to find a way forward.
Of course, many birds can thrive in an urban environment. One such species is the swift which nests almost exclusively in towns and cities with Oxford being a good example.
Birds of summer
I have often admired these wonderful creatures swooping around the Dreaming Spires on warm summer evenings but when I heard their breeding population has declined by more than 50 per cent in around just twenty years, I wanted to know how I could help.
It seems a possible cause may be that not enough spaces are being created as old buildings are renovated and new ones built.
New homes for swifts and people
This set me thinking – my company specialises in transforming old buildings such as pubs and garages into luxury modern apartments and bespoke commercial premises but we take care to retain the original fabric and character of the building as much as we can.
Now, after commissioning a special report from the Wildlife Trust and inspired by the RSPB’s Oxford Swift City Project, we have decided to do as much as we can to protect and encourage threatened species such as swifts and bats at our developments.
As a result, we have built four bird boxes at one of our latest developments in Hythe Bridge Street.
We designed and manufactured these in-house, in an attractive, artistic style with the aim of appealing to swifts when they return in the early summer.
The development is dedicated to short lets but if swifts move in then they will be very welcome to make it their new home and stay as long as they wish. And I for one can’t wait to give them a warm welcome.
Contact: Robin Swailes on 01865 318525
Image credit: Robin Swailes Design and Development