Building with Nature: creating better places for people and wildlife

Speaking ahead of the Landscape Show in Birmingham on 29th September 2022 , our head of landscape architecture, Isabelle Carter, shares the transformative impact of ‘Building with Nature’—and what it means for future developments.

With the UK committed to a ‘nature positive’ future when Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) becomes mandatory in winter 2023, Building with Nature (BwN) is helping to bring high-quality green infrastructure into the heart of development. With benefits for climate adaptation, nature recovery, and people’s wellbeing, their evidence-based framework—a set of 12 Standards, with six Core Standards and three themes of Wellbeing, Water, and Wildlife containing two standards in each—provides professionals and developers with robust guidance for delivering good green infrastructure at each stage of the development process.

As a Building with Nature Approved Assessor, my role is to help project teams create nature-positive developments, ensuring they pursue meaningful engagement with local communities, address the climate crisis, promote biodiversity, and emphasise social benefits. All the things we know we should be doing as best practice, but can be so hard to implement with tight project timelines. The Building with Nature approach provides a robust framework to guide us.

Why follow Building with Nature standards?

Because the Building with Nature benchmark requires success in all 12 standards to achieve accreditation, success relies on bringing the whole project team together from day one—enabling early collaboration between the consultant team including landscape architects, ecologists, drainage and flooding engineers, master planning, and architects.

Having an assessor onboard from the outset means I can advise on requirements that need to be considered in the early stages of the scheme, ensuring critical activities such as community engagement and effective place-keeping are considered and captured within the proposals. Critically, the benchmark helps to reduce planning uncertainty, while increasing project readiness for biodiversity net gain in a way that is good for people and wildlife.

As the project progresses, my role as the assessor is to sense-check the design, flagging areas that need further input to truly provide multi-functional high quality green and blue infrastructure. Then as the project reaches completion, the framework continues to protect and enhance a site’s natural features and commitments to nature recovery through post-completion assessments for a full award sign-off.

New Fosseway: a nature positive development

Green and blue infrastructure at New Fosseway – a Building with Nature Awarded Scheme

Acting recently as project assessor, a development example following the Building with Nature standard is New Fosseway in Hengrove, Bristol, a mixed housing development that includes 30% Affordable Housing and an Extra Care element for older people who want to live an active life.

The proposed development takes a landscape-led approach and has achieved a Building with Nature Design Award earlier this year. A central ‘community green’ establishes an inter-generational neighbourhood, while the landscape strategy details how the site could be developed to measurably increase green and blue infrastructure, improve biodiversity, and embed the principle themes of Wellbeing, Water, and Wildlife.

By embodying all 12 standards of the BwN accreditation, the proposals have demonstrated a 12.3% Biodiversity Net Gain within the site boundary and reflect the project’s holistic approach to green infrastructure.

Creating better places for people and wildlife

As our industry is committed to addressing the climate and biodiversity crisis, we’re encouraged to see increasing demand for nature-positive developments from clients and developers. At Stride Treglown, we’re committed to addressing the environmental emergency in all our landscape projects, and our Building with Nature capability allows us to guide clients on creating places that are fit for 21st century challenges.

The UK has long been crying out for high quality green-infrastructure, and finally we have a robust framework to help us leave nature in a better state than before development.

Isabelle is shedding further light on this topic at The Landscape Show, 29th September 14:15-15:00

If you’re interested in learning more, or looking to pursue the Building with Nature benchmark accreditation for your development, we’d be happy to share more—just drop Isabelle a line with any questions.

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