Swifts1

Endangered Swift population nesting at New Avenue in Enfield

Countryside, one of the UK's leading home builders specialising in place making and regeneration, has protected the future of the Swift population in Enfield by installing swift bricks at the New Avenue estate regeneration scheme in Oakwood, Enfield following the presence of the swifts being highlighted by local residents.

Swift bricks are special hollow bricks that encourage birds to nest in them, and Countryside agreed to install these bricks following advice from the RSPB, Swift Conservation, and the site ecologists Middlemarch Environmental. There are an estimated 27 pairs of swifts at New Avenue nesting behind the concrete cladding panels of Shepcot House, a 10-storey building that forms part of the existing New Avenue estate scheduled to be demolished in 2020.

Currently, 42 Ibstock swift bricks have been installed in two buildings which form the first phase of the new development. To encourage the swifts to take an interest in their new nesting places, Swift calls will be played from the vicinity of the bricks during the 2019 breeding season. This will enable the transition to the new nest places to run as smoothly as possible during 2020.

Further swift bricks are proposed for later buildings, amongst a range of other ecological enhancement measures such as living roofs, wildlife-friendly soft landscaping, and roosting spaces for bats.

Andy Fancy, Managing Director, Partnerships South (North & South), Countryside, said: "Countryside has taken a holistic approach to the regeneration of the New Avenue estate in Oakwood, with sustainability and ecology at the heart of the development. An eco-garden, orchard, electric car charging points and innovative green swale are all key features and complement the new home for the swift colony; placing New Avenue at the forefront of sustainable, green development in London.
 
"RSPB figures show that swifts suffered a 51% decrease in their breeding numbers in the UK between 1995 and 2015, which is partly down to a loss of nest sites. We're so proud to be supporting this endangered population; meaning that it's not just humans who are making their new home at New Avenue."

Michael Priaulx, Islington Swifts Group, commented: "The New Avenue estate scheme deserves praise as an exemplary model for ensuring swift bricks are in place, both in the very first phase of development and also before swifts return from migration in the first week of May.
 
"Swifts are the most nest-site faithful of all our birds in the UK and therefore extremely vulnerable to nest site loss. In cases where buildings containing nest sites are to be demolished, it is vital to provide alternative accommodation for them as early as possible in any project.
 
"We hope that this site will provide a valuable habitat for swifts and other wildlife for many years to come."

Developed by Countryside in partnership with Enfield Council, New Avenue is a regeneration scheme in the London suburb of Oakwood that is providing 268 private new homes. Ideally placed on Avenue Road, this modern new development combines high specification contemporary homes with local amenities and landscaped greenspaces, including a community centre, an eco-garden, and an orchard.​