There is a misconception that all housebuilders are solely focused on churning out homes without thought for the communities they are establishing. If there are housebuilders out there with this singular, limited ambition then Redrow is certainly not one of them.
Sustainability and creating places where people want to live are not optional extras for Redrow, it’s firmly entrenched in our DNA. For us sustainability is not just about building with sustainable materials and protecting local wildlife. It means creating thriving communities that are fit for the future.
The starting point for each of our developments is our placemaking principles which are embedded in the design and layout of our sites. These include ensuring that schemes fit sensitively with the local area, that they feature large open spaces and plenty of nature habitats, that residents can easily make their way around the area and are well connected to public transport.
For example, 95% of our homes are within 500 metres of a public transport link. All this ensures a place that fosters a sense of wellbeing among the people living there – and the broader community too. As a housebuilder we invested £163m in facilities and infrastructure across the year ending 30 June 2017, to bring people together and foster a real sense of pride in place.
We are increasingly delivering large communities around the country. Often these developments are on former industrial brownfield land, from Colindale Gardens in north west London, to Ebbsfleet Green at Ebbsfleet Garden City in Kent and Woodford Garden Village in Cheshire.
These developments enable us to embed our placemaking principles at scale. These new communities offer residents swathes of green space, orchards, allotments, running trails, cycling infrastructure and the homes are constructed to the highest quality standards we can deliver.
Smaller sites, by their very nature, have less space in which to create these amenities and facilities. However, we work hard to ensure all our residents can benefit from clean, green lifestyles. All Redrow developments have a green travel plan, for example, and on some smaller sites we have instigated projects to create bee-friendly planting and have installed hedgehog highways to boost native animal and insect species.
We also pay particular attention to the impact our developments will have on the local area and the wider environment during construction. We have achieved certification to the international environmental management standard ISO 14001. Some 99.98% of the wood we use to build our homes is from sustainable sources. Our extensive use of sustainably sourced timber won us a coveted Three Trees Award, for the second time, from WWF.
We have set ourselves an ambitious goal to work towards achieving biodiversity net gain on our developments. Biodiversity net gain is a development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before. We’ve already started work on achieving this goal by commissioning a project to evaluate our biodiversity position on three key sites.
The study revealed that, once completed, two of the three sites will achieve biodiversity net gain positions, with work being done on the third site to advance towards this net aim. The results of this study are helping to inform the development of a strategic biodiversity action plan in Redrow, encompassing net gain principles and partnership working.
The aim of achieving a net gain position also incorporates economic and social responsibility. We commission an annual socio-economic footprint report to obtain a robust, reliable and transparent assessment of the total impact of our activities. The report, for our most recently completed financial year, showed that we have contributed £1.14bn of gross value added (GVA) to UK economic output.
In respect to social net gain the footprint reported 13,200 direct, indirect and induced employment through Redrow, its sub-contractors and suppliers, equating to three jobs per every home built. Staying on the theme of social net gain we are also developing a social value calculator (SVC). This tool will help us to evaluate the social value, in monetary terms, of all our developments. The SVC, once completed, will also be used as a forecasting tool to help inform our decision making on the configuration of our developments to achieve maximum social value.
To challenge the negativity that envelops volume housebuilding, the industry must work towards developing strategies that deliver positive sustainability outcomes for society.
A key consideration in the development of these strategies is determining how to become smarter at measuring the social, environmental and economic impact of developments. We must then use this data and information to make informed judgements that support the delivery of net positive solutions.