Our Mill Meadows development at Sudbrook has been recognised for its “innovative mitigation and enhancement measures” taken to avoid any adverse impacts on local wildlife, including a bespoke bat house that even had its own planning permission ahead of the homes.
The development of two, three and four bedroom homes was highly commended in the Biodiversity Legacy category of the annual BIG Biodiversity Challenge awards 2021 run by CIRIA, the independent Construction Industry Research and Information Association. This recognises long-term commitment to improving biodiversity on development sites.
Mill Meadows is on the former 100-acre site of a papermill that was home to three species of bats as well as slowworms and next to the Severn Estuary, an important area for wintering birds. The site was brought forward by Harrow Estates who were responsible for the design and implementation of the bat house and mitigation of protected species. The commendation particularly recognised the work we did in advance, especially the bat house which has led to one species breeding at the location for the first time.
The masterplan was designed to safeguard protected species and maintain and develop the existing high quality wildlife habitats. The bespoke bat house was designed with various types of “rooms” to accommodate the various species, and it received its own planning permission well ahead of any demolition or construction work starting.
Image: Roost entrances
The great news is that ongoing monitoring has confirmed that all three species of bats are using the building as a roost and for hibernation. There is now also a maternity roost home to 15 adult lesser horseshoe bats, three with pups, who only ever used to pass through the location and never settled or bred here. The bats are also supported by the surrounding habitat, designed to provide foraging areas including cattle grazed pasture, hedgerows and scrub.
By incorporating open space into the development design and linking the site to the existing footpath and cycle network, we’ve created a healthy active travel environment for the human residents, encouraging recreation away from these more sensitive habitats.
Our technical manager, Reuben Cooke, explained that we aim to deliver a net gain in biodiversity in its developments through our Nature for People strategy, developed in partnership with the Wildlife Trusts.
“We wholeheartedly believe that the natural environment is key to creating healthy new communities, which is why the locations of our developments are always very special,”he said.
“We all live better with nature around us, and creating communities that balance nature and development is not just possible, but essential.
“Mill Meadows is a first-class example of creating a better way to live not just for people but also local wildlife. The residents enjoy superb views across the Severn estuary and footpaths and cycle routes leading straight into the local countryside, and really value the conservation of nature here.
“At the same time, it’s fantastic that a protected species of bat is so happy here that their population is growing – we couldn’t be happier.”
Image: 3 lesser horseshoe bats
More about our bespoke bat house - ‘The Sudbrook.
Made of concrete, it has a steel door to protect it against vandalism and all the facilities the three indigenous species of bats need, including:
rooms to be used for light sampling – where the bats can fly in and out to check light levels are safe for them to leave
a loft with hot boxes
a room with a cool tower
weather boarding, tiles and access to cavity walls for those who live in crevices