GWT pioneers new vision for housing: launch 9 November

Tuesday 7th November 2017

Building with Nature logoBuilding with Nature logo

A pioneering project piloted in Gloucestershire and Bristol is about to be rolled out across the UK. Building with Nature encourages housing developers to incorporate features such as play areas, street trees, parks, allotments and ponds. The aim is to create developments where people’s wellbeing, as well as wildlife, are given priority.

It is the first certification scheme of its type in the UK and has already received support from national companies Persimmon Homes, Bloor Homes and HAB Housing. Local firms and organisations that have signed up to the certification scheme include Bathurst Development Limited, Cotswold District Council and Gloucester Services.


Building with Nature has been developed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the University of the West of England.


The exemplary motorway service station Gloucester Services has been awarded the benchmark, and three planned housing schemes have been designed using the Building with Nature benchmark: Chesterton Farm (Cirencester), Elderberry Walk (Bristol) and Elms Park (Cheltenham).


The benchmark is available for housing and commercial developments and covers three key themes – wildlife, water and wellbeing.


“The benefits of designing for people and wildlife are well documented, but until now there has been no benchmark for standards and no system for ensuring that elements are maintained,” says Dr Gemma Jerome, Building with Nature’s Project Manager.

The benefits of designing for people and wildlife are well documented, but until now there has been no benchmark for standards and no system for ensuring that elements are maintained.

For example, at Chesterton Farm houses will be built with integrated bird boxes and there will be an allotment area. A network of pedestrian routes and cycle paths will run through the development, linking up to the town centre, to encourage active lifestyles. Elderberry Walk is focused around a central green street, where existing trees have been retained.

Mike Roberts, Managing Director of HAB Housing commented, “We always try to put the natural environment at the heart of our schemes, so we have greatly enjoyed working with the Building with Nature team on the development of the certification scheme.”


The Building with Nature team is now working with the Town and Country Planning Association to recruit demonstration projects across the UK.

Case studies

Chesterton Farm, by Bathurst Development Limited, will be a mixed-use development comprising 2,350 residential dwellings, business units, and community facilities on a greenfield site. The development will include a range of features to deliver benefits to people and nature: houses will be built with integrated bird boxes and there will be an allotment area and a network of pedestrian routes and cycle paths running through the development, and linking up to the town centre, to encourage active lifestyles. Sustainable drainage systems will help to manage surface water run off while creating new habitats for wildlife.

Elderberry Walk will comprise 161 homes on the site of a former school, and is being developed by HAB Housing. The development is focused around a central green street, with retained trees, and provides an area where surface water can run off as well as providing sources of food for bats. The scheme includes a communal wildlife garden and edible planting.


Elms Park is a joint venture between Bloor Homes and Persimmon Homes. This mixed-use development in Cheltenham will comprise 4,115 homes as well as business space for up to 5,000 new jobs. The masterplan includes a high percentage of green infrastructure and incorporates new wildlife habitats, space for play and recreation, a central blue-green corridor to enhance the existing river corridor, and sustainable drainage features to maximise flood resilience.


Gloucester Services has integrated beneficial features including wetland and meadow areas, and complements the character of the surrounding landscape.