Housing development in West Sussex will feature special bricks providing homes for swifts and sparrows

A housing development in Angmering is helping to provide homes for two species of birds whose numbers are in decline.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 5:47 pm

David Wilson Homes (DWH) has just launched a new development of 175 homes in Water Lane in the village.

Ecclesden Park will see 25 of the homes built featuring integrated custom design swift bricks or sparrow nest box bricks which allows the birds to nest safely inside.

The home builder is part of Barratt Developments Plc which has teamed up with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Manthorpe Building Products to create the specially designed swift brick.

Pictured are DW Homes' Mark Wheeler on the left with a sparrow brick nest box and Gabriel Brandao on the right, with a swift brick nest box

The brick was created by Manthorpe based on initial designs by the RSPB and Action for Swifts. Working closely with the Action for Swifts, a cost effective and lightweight design was developed for production.

Being plastic, the design brief was to ensure it was fully drained, ventilated and unobtrusive by matching the colour of the bricks. Funded by Barratt Developments Plc and Manthorpe, the RSPB and Action for Swifts provided feedback on the prototypes all the way through to the final design and launch in 2017.

Providing more nesting sites for swifts has been one of the aims of the partnership between the RSPB and Barratt Developments Plc which was launched in 2014 to look at how nature and wildlife could be incorporated into new communities.

The Ecclesden Park development will also use bricks with six holes to house sparrows and there will also be nest boxes for tawny owls and kestrels.

A closer view of how the swift brick works

More than 2,000 swift bricks are being installed in Barratt developments up and down the country with plans to install 2,000 more by 2023.

Swift and sparrow numbers in sharp decline

In the UK, the number of swifts and sparrows has been in sharp decline in recent years. According to the RSPB, in London, sparrow numbers fell by 60 per cent between 1994 and 2004. The house and tree sparrow is now on the red list of conservation concern.

The number of swifts in the UK has plummeted with a 53 per cent decline between 1995 and 2016. This is largely due to a loss of suitable nest spaces as old buildings are renovated or demolished. New buildings often lack the crevices these charismatic birds use as homes.

An image of how houses at Ecclesden Park will look

John Day, RSPB urban land management adviser, said: “The swifts you see careering around rooftops have flown thousands of miles over rainforests, deserts, and seas.

"When they arrive, some will find there isn’t anywhere safe and secure to raise their chicks, so we are delighted that Barratt David Wilson Homes is installing swift bricks to help this amazing bird.

"If you’d also like to give swifts a hand you can make or buy swift boxes of your own, or make your area as insect-friendly as possible so swifts and other wildlife have something to eat.

"You can find out more about how to help swifts and other garden wildlife from our Barratt David Wilson-sponsored project, Nature on Your Doorstep: www.rspb.org.uk/yourdoorstep.”

Development will have sustainability in mind

Ecclesden Park will provide a selection of 122 private and 53 affordable two, three and four-bedroom homes built with the first show home due to be unveiled in the spring.

It is being developed with sustainability in mind providing 145 homes with electric vehicle charging points and photovoltaic panels for solar energy.

A number of hedgehog highways are also being created to combat declining hedgehog numbers. The highways consist of circular or square holes about 130-150mm in size cut into the base of fence gravel boards or brick walls.

This hole allows sufficient space for hedgehogs to pass safely from garden to garden while remaining too small for domestic pets to pass through, eliminating the need for them to cross roads.

Each property has been sensitively designed, featuring attractive layouts and plenty of clever hidden features including energy efficient technology throughout, large windows to encourage natural light and generously proportioned rooms with well-planned storage solutions.

DWH is using a combination of fabric improvements and low carbon technologies such as PV along with electric vehicle charging points. This enables the company to achieve the required 10 per cent reduction in energy demand.

To enable these fabric improvements, they have upgraded the materials and increased the insulation thickness, along with enhanced glazing with a larger transmittance factor allowing for increased solar gains.

A selection of the properties will be made available to purchase using the Government backed Help to Buy scheme, which will enable first time buyers to purchase a property priced up to £437,600 at Ecclesden Park with just a five per cent deposit. To find out more about David Wilson Homes or Ecclesden Park, visit www.dwh.co.uk or call 0333 355 8499.