From 1 June all new developments over five metres tall will have to include habitats within their construction to house swifts. In order to help developers and designers incorporate the new planning requirements in their designs, our planning service has published a special guidance note. It sets out the types of swift boxes and bricks that can be installed, how they should be selected, how many are required for each scale of development and where they should be sited.
The guidance comes as conservationists across the country highlight the plight of swifts during National Swift Awareness Week (25 June to 5 July).
Helping swifts to survive
Swifts are urban birds who return to the same nest spot. This is usually a small space between roof tiles or tucked under the eaves of older buildings. Yet more and more swifts are returning to discover their nest is gone or access has been blocked, as older buildings get knocked down or patched up while they are away.
These birds only visit the UK between May & August, so people often don’t realise that swifts were using holes in their buildings which can have serious consequences. Swifts cannot perch, so they are unable to land until they reach their nest. After a long migration they need to rest and recharge to make sure they are in prime condition before the breeding season and not waste valuable energy looking for new nesting sites.
Councillor Tracey Hill, chair of the city’s planning committee, said: “I hope that this guidance will help developers and their designers to easily incorporate these habitats into their plans for new buildings across the city. Adding swift boxes into the design is a low cost item for a development but will make a long term contribution to the survival of these beautiful birds that we all love to see in the summer months.”
National Swift Awareness week is organised by members of the Swifts Local Network, who promote a wide range of events and activities to both raise awareness of the species and encourage the provision of new habitats for them in the built environment.
New places to hatch and bring up their young are vital as swifts only spend three months of the year in the UK, before beginning their long flight back to Africa, where they spend the colder winter months.
Read Brighton & Hove’s guidance note for developers and designers
Find out more about National Swift Awareness Week
See how swift bricks are providing nesting sites at Brighton General Hospital