Our Natural Environment Team Ecologist Ed Stocker and Principal Planner Neil Campbell at Norfolk County Council have recently been working closely with NPS architect Barry Andrews and The Ecology Consultancy to create exciting penthouse accommodation for swifts and other wildlife as part of the renovation of the new Thetford Bus Interchange (see below).
The early 19th century Grade II Listed former warehouse, was in a poor state of repair before it was identified as a potential part of the new bus interchange for Thetford.
The resulting project undertaken by NPS Property Consultants Ltd. with consultation from our Community and Environmental Services (CES) department, have developed a scheme that meets all the requirements of planning law, not to mention those of our feathered friends.
Lots of planning issues had to be considered by the architects including listed building consent, planning regulations, the conservation area it is located within and the local authority’s duties to protect trees and biodiversity. Ken Hamilton, our Senior Historic Environment Officer was also on hand to advise on planning issues relating to listed buildings and archaeology.
Working together ensured the best possible design could be achieved that considered all the planning regulations and created new nesting habitats for swifts and bats as an integral part of the roofing design. Access for bats was retained, while eight new swift boxes could be installed.
Most people are aware that bats are protected and have to be considered in planning applications, but many people would not be aware that swifts are struggling or that they are a ‘priority species for conservation’ in the UK.
A major factor effecting swifts is the loss of established nesting sites. Swifts tend to nest in old buildings. However, these are being modernised more and more frequently, as shown in the bus interchange case. Since swifts pair for life and return to the same nesting site each year, they can sometimes find themselves homeless! Therefore, it is important that the swifts’ habitats are not neglected in such instances.
Hence, this scheme will be providing brand new accommodation for the birds, helping towards our Norfolk targets in the Swift Biodiversity Action Plan, co-ordinated by the CES Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership (see here for more details).
These are (as you may have guessed):
However, this is not just the aims in Norfolk. Across the border in Cambridgeshire, Cambridge City Council have built a thirty-three feet steel tower filled with 200 colourful swift nest boxes to provide homes for swifts. More information is available here.
If you know a building where swifts nest or where there is potential for swift boxes in Norfolk, we would love to hear from you. Please email Ed Stocker at: Edward.firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch this space for an update on swifts and nesting boxes in the near future!