On Tuesday February 7th, the Government published its most recent strategy for addressing the housing crisis.
The Wildlife Trusts believe that there is an urgent need for a radical new approach to delivering the country’s housing needs for the 21st Century. It is clear that the market has been failing to meet the needs of people for good quality, sustainable and affordable housing but we must not allow the response to this demand add to the crisis that Cheshire’s natural heritage is facing. We need to make it normal for all housing, commercial and infrastructure development to contribute positively to nature’s recovery.
The Government’s intention to accelerate the construction of 1 million homes across the UK by 2020, as stated by Secretary of State Sajid Javid Tuesday morning, is a major target which, if not planned carefully, could place massive pressure on the natural environment.
Cheshire Wildlife Trust believes that new developments must not be built on or affect the integrity of the network of ecologically important sites that provide homes and habitat for the majority of our wildlife. From the Mersey washlands, to the ancient woodlands and wetlands of the Cheshire Plain, our region supports a rich natural heritage. These important yet fragile areas are recognised as Local Wildlife Sites, SSSIs, nature reserves, flood plains and European protected sites. But importantly it is the linkages between these sites that will allow for nature’s recovery in the future. By developing with these sites and linkages in mind, the Government could use this as an opportunity to reverse declines in wildlife, improve the health and wellbeing of future residents and add value to new developments. This should be done by protecting our existing wild places, creating new areas, actively strengthening nature networks and incorporating the natural environment into the fabric of all new developments for the benefit of wildlife and people.