L&Q, one of the UK’s leading charitable housing associations, has joined forces with environmental campaigners to boost local wildlife at its Birnam Mews development in Tiddington, near Stratford-upon-Avon.
Kyra Barboutis and Sophie Smith, Co-Founders of Hedgehog Friendly Town, visited the site along with Ian Jelley, Director of Living Landscapes at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, and Tiddington Ward Councillor Kate Rolfe.
Recently awarded RSPCA’s Young Person Award, Kyra, and Sophie, both aged 13, set up Hedgehog Friendly Town four years ago, and are on a mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release hedgehogs back into the wild around Stratford-upon-Avon. On their visit to Birnam Mews, they gave their specialist hedgehog support and advice to L&Q’s site team, offering to be on-call, should any hedgehogs be found on site during construction.
L&Q has pledged to maintain hoardings and a green buffer around the site, to ensure the safety and protection of the existing wildlife habitat during the construction phase.
Once works have been completed, L&Q will install hedgehog-friendly fencing at Birnam Mews, to allow local hedgehogs safe passage through the development by avoiding the roads. Mature hedgerows and low boundary fencing will also encourage free movement of wildlife. The existing hedgerow will be renovated and protected, planting the same flora species to ensure its integrity. Informal wild flowers and log piles will populate the southern side of the site, encouraging attractive habitat for butterflies and insects.
L&Q is building a vibrant and sustainable new community at Birnam Mews, with 60 quality new homes built around a series of attractive greens. The development will include 21 affordable homes for local people. The housing association is a long-term partner in the neighbourhoods where it works, investing in communities through its £250m L&Q Foundation and skills academy.
Hedgehogs have made headlines recently, with studies showing that populations in the countryside have been in serious decline in recent years. Campaigners have been advocating for the integration of ‘hedgehog highways’ in new-build developments to allow animals to move freely between homes. A petition backing this famously gathered over 500,000 signatures and receiving backing from Housing Minister Kit Malthouse.
Kyra Barboutis, Co-Founder of Hedgehog Friendly Town said: “We understand there is a need for new homes to be built and we are especially thrilled that L&Q are working with us to ensure that they are protecting our wildlife as much as possible. I just hope that other developers follow suit.”
Kyae Lee, Design & Technical Coordinator at L&Q (Counties region) added: “L&Q is committed to maintaining the local wildlife in Tiddington. We are invested in Warwickshire for the long term, working with the community. It was a pleasure to meet with Kyra and Sophie and explain our plans. We’re extremely impressed with their specialist knowledge and are delighted to be working together — their conservation work will continue to influence our Birnam Mews development.”
Sophie Smith, who is working with Kyra to create a leaflet for new homeowners to encourage the protection of hedgehogs in the area, commented: “It’s good that the message is getting across about how important our wildlife is, and it’s great that L&Q are taking the necessary steps to making a big difference. We found the tour really interesting and look forward to continuing our journey together.”
Cllr Kate Rolfe, Tiddington Ward Councillor said: “I’m so pleased that L&Q are working with Kyra and Sophie from Hedgehog Friendly Town and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust to ensure that all wildlife is protected.”
Ian Jelley, Director of Living Landscapes at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, which is working with L&Q said: “It is great to see that L&Q are open to advice on how to enhance their housing developments for the benefits of wildlife and people. The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on earth and we can all play our part in its recovery. By ensuring that their Tiddington development has ‘hedgehog highways’ allowing wildlife to move through holes in garden fences, L&Q are helping to ensure that species like hedgehogs can move from garden to garden to find food, shelter and a mate.
“We have to build new homes for people to meet demand, and it is important that we do so in a way that makes space for nature and safeguards it for future generations. L&Q’s plans to retain and enhance existing hedgerows and plant areas with native wild flowers and shrubs within the new development, will hopefully help provide a home to wildlife as well as people.”