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Bewley hosts a special site visit for 9-year-old researching net gain biodiversity in housebuilding

14 Feb 2023

Bewley Homes hosted a very special site visit at its Ash Lodge Park development near Guildford last week for a 9-year-old.


Rosie Childs, a Year 4 pupil at a local primary school, has an extraordinary interest in whether local housing needs and biodiversity can work together and has been researching the subject for over 12 months to see the impact a new development makes to local wildlife and the environment.


Rosie reached out to Bewley, via her mother Carla, to speak to the housebuilder on the subject of biodiversity net gain and request a site visit. She also has a keen interest in how houses are built from a sustainability point of view.


Her mum Carla explained that Rosie has heard many local people complaining about new build housing and in particular our new Ash Lodge Park development and the effect it has had on the local wildlife. Carla says Rosie, at such a young age, has now discovered the human trait of hypocrisy! She has pointed out to locals moaning about the new build at Ash Lodge Park that we all live in houses that were once fields, a fact which some members of the public did not appreciate.


Rosie has spent many hundreds of hours researching and writing to the Land Trust, the Environment Agency as well as to many industry experts on the subject. She’s also in direct communication with Sir David Attenborough who also offers support and his advice.


Rosie believes that people do not see as much wildlife now because their houses do not back on to fields and that they have also created the issue themselves by erecting solid fences for privacy, therefore stopping animal movements.


Rosie also feels that the SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space) Bewley put in place is ‘doing its job’ and that wildlife and biodiversity are thriving. She has seen there is a great source of food within the fields, so there is no need for animals to move into built up areas in search of a meal. 


After Bewley agreed the site visit, Rosie met Site Manager Bill Fisher; Matt Jenkins, Health, Safety and Environment Manager; Technical Manager Matthew Brook and Strategic Land and Planning Director, Andy Morris, and was shown around the site viewing a number of houses at different stages of the build process.


Andy Morris also showcased the company’s planned new flagship eco development – Watermill Bridge – near Newbury which features many eco features a with a positive biodiversity net gain.


Andy Morris said: “In 30 years working in housebuilding I have never seen a thirst for knowledge on the subject of biodiversity from someone so young. It’s astonishing,”


He added: “We had a very engaging discussion and Rosie asked many challenging questions. We are very happy to support her on-going research and we told her ‘never give up challenging people’!”


Rosie has entered the Rotary Club’s Young Environmentalist of the Year competition choosing the entry: ‘Biodiversity in housebuilding – can housebuilders do more?’


Andrew Brooks, Managing Director at Bewley, added: “Agreeing a visit on a working site for a 9-year-old is not a request I’ve ever had to grant before which makes this case even more extraordinary. Supporting young people like Rosie in their environmental efforts is crucial to a sustainable future. To be able to form very articulate views on biodiversity and how the industry can make more net gains from a wide range of research and discussions is exceptional and we wish her all the best.”


Andrew added: “Interestingly, in this case, it’s taken a 9-year-old to challenge the mindset of an older generation who have their own property, and to get across that younger people need houses! Going forward, will younger generations be less opposed to new housing plans when they get older because they realise how difficult it is to get a foot on the ladder? I hope the answer is yes.”