THE breeding population of swifts could be set for a precious boost in Buckinghamshire.
Thanks to a pioneering link-up between the RSPB and Barratt Homes, some 900 nestboxes for swifts are set to be installed on houses on the new Kingsbrook development in Aylesbury.
The "boxes" are actually specially-designed bricks and have been created, in "easily-fittable" form, by Manthorpe Building Products Ltd.
According to RSPB senior media officer Gareth Brede, the charity and Barratts have been co-operating since 2014 "to explore how nature and wildlife can be incorporated into new communities".
Says Michael Finn, group design and technical director at Barratt Developments: “The bricks are an industry first - they are fully drained, ventilated and unobtrusive.
"They also help nurture chicks by giving them room to stand when they hatch. Crucially, too, they are cheaper than any other swift brick on the market which will help their uptake.
"We actively want other developers to use the brick so we can all help build swift populations.
"It’s a great example of how we are working together with the RSPB and the wider industry to support nature.”
Equally upbeat is the RSPB’s head of species and habitats conservation, Darren Moorcroft, who says: “In previous centuries, builders would often create spaces for swifts, but these techniques have fallen out of practice with modern homes.
"Our partnership with Barratt Homes has allowed us to share ideas and look at how we can bring this practice back in a way that works for builders, homeowners and the swifts.”
Manthorpe Building Products' sales director, Gareth Wright, says his firm was delighted to be approached on the project.
"The product is already gaining a lot of interest," he says. "Thanks to its ease of fitting and competitive price, builders are able to incorporate this product into their new homes with neither disruption to the construction process nor any need to incorporate any design changes to existing house types.”
Ideally, other large housebuilders such as Bellway, Bovis, Galliford, Gleeson, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey will see the potential - not least in burnishing their eco-credentials - and come on board the train.
* The Kingsbrook development will also accommodate 300-plus acres of wildlife habitat, including a community orchard, formal and informal parks plus green corridors