Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs and HAB Housing unveiled as honorary vice-president of Avon Wildlife Trust

Monday 12th October 2015

Kevin McCloud at Avon Wildlife Trust Bennett's Patch (c) Barbara EvripidouKevin McCloud at Bennett's Patch and White's Paddock (c) Barbara Evripidou

Kevin McCloud, of Grand Designs fame and Chairman of HAB Housing, a sustainable housing designer, has become Avon Wildlife Trust's new honorary vice-president.

• Innovative appointment of unique housing developer to local Wildlife Trust
• Future housing developments should consider ecosystems and their benefits to society
• 22nd October event to inspire and start a wider debate about nature-rich cities

Kevin McCloud, of Grand Designs fame and Chairman of HAB Housing, a sustainable housing designer, has become Avon Wildlife Trust's new honorary vice-president. 

The appointment comes at a critical time, with the pressures of housing development in the region mounting and the consequent impact that could have on the natural environment. As the Joint Spatial Plan is being formulated by the West of England Unitary Authorities – the plan to determine where and how tens of thousand of new homes will be built to support the growing population in the region – Avon Wildlife Trust wants to see ecosystem services recognised as a key influencer and taken into account. 

Clean water, carbon sequestration and clean air, are all services from our natural environment that are sometimes taken for granted, as well as people's wellbeing through a connection to nature. More innovative partnerships of ‘green architecture’ with wildlife conservation could help influence and ensure major ecological improvements happen with careful planning and development of public or private housing. These views are shared by McCloud's HAB Housing team.

About the appointment Kevin said: “It is an honour to be associated with the Avon Wildlife Trust and the brilliant work it does. For that matter, it's a privilege for any one of us to care for our wildlife and make a contribution to the preservation, enhancement and even the creation of new habitats. The living environment can become as powerful as the built one in our cities.”

Commenting on the challenges we face, he added: “It is important that the emerging Joint Spatial Plan of the four unitary authorities, recognises the value of the environment. We must think of our ecological networks that support people with free services in the same way we think about transport and other infrastructure. The people here have implicitly demanded a better and more diverse ecological environment by setting up hundreds of their own neighbourhood schemes. Retrofitting projects like Bristol Green Doors are successfully adapting our housing stock to low energy standards, so why can't we retrofit every available verge, every roundabout, riverbank and redundant scrap of land with wildflower seed and a pair of willows? ”

HAB, based in Bristol, is keen to boost the city's biodiversity and help build networks of green gateways through different projects. One of those was helping to deliver Avon Wildlife Trust’s volunteer building on the recently developed nature reserve Bennett's Patch and White’s Paddock, situated on the Portway – an important gateway to the city. 

The West of England is poised to deliver community projects like this, connecting up
green corridors to make urban spaces nature-rich, and Bristol in particular through the Trust’s My Wild City initiative. 

Dr Bevis Watts, Chief Executive of Avon Wildlife Trust said: “We are thrilled to welcome Kevin as our new honorary vice-president in adding his support to the Trust's work. Kevin and his team have a genuine passion for development that makes space for wildlife, and forming such partnerships is an important part of influencing the future. Together we can create a nature-rich urban environment that puts wildlife right on our doorsteps, giving everyone the opportunity to experience the joy of nature every day. Together, if we connect habitats and green spaces, we can create wildlife corridors – ‘green highways’ enabling wildlife to move easily around where we live and work and link to the countryside.” 

The Trust is inviting all to attend its Annual Meeting on 22nd October for an evening of inspiration and thought-provoking discussions, starting a wider debate about how our cities and towns across the UK can be nature rich, which will continue during the Festival of the Future City on November 18th.

The My Wild City showcase event is being held at the Redgrave Theatre in Clifton. It will explore the progress and success in achieving the My Wild City vision of the turning Bristol into a nature reserve. Speakers include Jules Hyam, from the BBC, who worked in partnership with the Trust to create a wildlife-friendly demonstration garden at the BBC Bristol headquarters on Whiteladies Road. The event will also give highlights from local residents and businesses who have had hands on experience working on different My Wild City projects; including; My Wild Street, My Wild Cathedral and the Trust's newest nature reserve in the Avon Gorge, Bennett's Patch and White's Paddock. Wildlife photographer Sam Hobson will also share his extraordinary photos of urban wildlife to inspire the audience about the beauty of a nature-rich city.

Bristol’s Festival of Future Cities/Nature-Rich Cities event on 18th November will explore how we integrate nature in urban living, design and planning, and make our urban landscapes wildlife-friendly, both to protect existing wildlife and to attract more.