Wilder edge of London’s property market: ‘Nature’s housing association’ finds homes for birds and bees
An unusual housing association has sprung up in London which seeks to tackle the housing crisis with a very distinctive property portfolio.
WildHomes, which launched last month, advertises highly affordable and attractive homes in natural spaces, but they aren’t necessarily suitable for humans.
Instead the scheme promotes accommodation for London’s wildest residents — including sparrows, hedgehogs, bats and bees.
Lucy Clark, who is part of the WildHomes team, said: “We are nature’s housing association.
“London is already fantastically welcoming to wildlife, but people don’t notice the green space that’s around them already.
“We look at ways to get people more engaged with these spaces — the project is a great chance to be outside and look at nature.”
Inspired by the capital’s desperate need for affordable housing, WildHomes place estate agent-style signs by handy habitats to draw attention to the importance of preserving London’s nature spots and wildlife.
“It’s a bit of fun but it’s still quite a serious piece of work,” explained Lucy.
FOR THE BIRDS AND THE BEES: Wildhomes can spring up anywhere
The group have even been approached by confused estate agents who typically deal in more human-suitable habitats.
That gave WildHomes founder Steve Pocock and his colleagues Lucy, Anne Keenan and James Robbins the idea of working with property websites like Zoopla or Rightmove in the future.
The plan is that the websites can advertise WildHomes listings as a way of showing off green neighbourhoods in which they operate.
WildHomes’s main goal is to work with the National Park City Initiative to help London become the world’s first National Park City, motivating the capital’s 8.6 million people to protect its 8.3 million trees and 13,000 different species of wildlife.
Led by Dan Raven-Ellison, the Initiative wants to gain National Park City status for the city so that these natural features are preserved for years to come in the face of big new building developments.
At present, WildHomes is emphasising grassroots involvement and people power to help get the campaign off the ground — which, incidentally, is 47% green in London, according to Greenspace Information for Greater London.
People can print their own placards using a template on the group’s website and then upload pictures of any suitable creature properties they find to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #WildHomes.
The WildHomes website also includes a guide to building cheap, effective homes for wildlife.
Lucy said: “It is a people-led plan, a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign.
“We want all everyone to go to their councils and get local councillors on board to help protect against development and hold on to we’ve got in London.
“The idea of everyone living together is such a big part of living in London and creatures are just another part of the city’s community.”
NOOKS AND CRANNIES: These ladybirds have set up home in the smallest of spaces
Richmond (where the property pictured above can be found) was one of the first areas to feature in the WildHomes portfolio, but now the quirky housing association wants people to look further afield and in more unusual locations.
Lucy said: “You need to find out in your area what are the creatures which need the most help. They should be able to thrive, not just survive.”
“We want the whole of London to be keeping an eye out.
“If you aren’t enjoying the nature in London, you’re possibly missing out on one of the most exciting aspects of London life.
“Green space automatically means healthy people and the busier you are the more you need the natural.
“Regaining a sense of perspective and caring for things other than yourself is a good way to be.”
For more details about WildHomes and the National Park City initiative, visit wildhomes.co.uk or look for @WildHomesLondon on Twitter.