How to encourage wildlife in your garden this spring

Environ, Freshford Mill | 17 March 2016 |

Spring is just around the corner, and as we’ll soon be spending more time outdoors, we thought we’d have a look at how to make sure your garden is providing the right environment for wildlife. At Environ’s latest project, Freshford Mill near Bath, Julie and the team are transforming a derelict mill into 21 new homes. Based in a conservation area teeming with wildlife Julie is putting her top tips into practice and is designing the site as a haven for local wildlife:

– Select a wide range of native trees and shrubs, plus a mixture of flowering plants and vegetables to provide food for animals throughout the season. Flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects that are essential for fertilisation.

– Create a compost heap to provide shelter for reptiles and hedgehogs. A pile of rotting wood is good for stag and bark beetles and woodlice.

– Encourage birds with fresh water and food. Nuts, sunflower seeds, kitchen scraps fat balls, or pet shop seed mixtures are all good. Just make sure feeding tables are not accessible to cats and squirrels!

– To encourage butterflies, plant groups of the same flowers together so they are easy to find. Leave areas of longer grass, nettles and brambles, which create a supply of food and egg-laying environments, plus shelter for small mammals such as hedgehogs, wood mice, voles and shrews.

– Don’t kill off all the caterpillars and other insects in your garden! Instead install insect “hotels” which offer a variety of environments. They can be built with old wood, loose bark, and hollow stems such as old bamboo canes.

– Don’t light your garden. Lights will deter bats which require dark corridors to navigate at night. If you do, use only LEDs in a warm white or terracotta that shine downwards with a narrow beam and set on a sensor.

– Install a pond with a shallow sloping edge to enable easy access to both water and land for reptiles such as newts. A slightly boggy area around part of the edge of the pond is great for toads and frogs. A pond may also attract waterfowl. Birds such as swallows and house martins will pick off insects from above the water surface and use muddy areas for nest building.

The latest trends and factors when building new homes

Environ | 18 December 2015 |

With a new year just around the corner Tony Dowse, Chairman of Environ, discusses some of the latest trends and factors affecting the building of new homes.

The Most Important Features Buyers Will Be Looking For in New Homes in 2016: Buyers of new properties are looking for space, light, the latest technology and access to an outdoor space. As a result we are offering homes that offer ...

… much larger square footages, a very high specification and incorporates biophilic design. In essence this is an architectural celebration of natural forms, processes, patterns, qualities and materials that provide a positive impact on physical, mental and emotional health. Of particular relevance in the Environ model is that developments concentrate on integrating retirement schemes into existing communities rather than the isolation of retirement villages. Environ is very much concentrating on a new retirement model as a response to a number of studies that show that the type of homes being produced is not tempting retirees from their larger homes, despite their desire to downsize.

The Effects of Changing Technology on the Housing Market: Broadband and mobile phone signals are now of paramount importance in any scheme. Technology is moving on at such a pace that it is essential to allow for future flexibility and the inter relationship between computers and TV screens in the home. In the same way that we are now incorporating mechanical and electrical plant cupboards as a sort of command module; we are also including media hubs as a control point for all the media/computer/mobile technology.

The Impact of Changing Family Living Situations on the Type of Homes People Want to Buy: It is important that houses are designed with ‘Lifetime Homes’ principles, so that houses can adapt with changing needs and are equally suitable for young families and retirees. Some commentators are hinting at house layouts going away from open plan. In my view this would be a retrograde step as private areas can be created in an open plan layout given the flexibility of pocket doors and sliding partitions.

The Effect of the Government’s Targets for Building New Homes: Some of the provisions in the Housing and Planning Bill and the Autumn Statement would appear positive, but there remains so much uncertainty. For all the positive comment, it’s not possible to simply pick up the numbers in an instant. It’s a bit like getting an oil tanker up to speed. The planning system will continue to delay development as there are still a number of constraints, such as the need for specialist reports in order for an application to be validated.