Spending time outdoors is important – it improves one’s memory, relieves stress, gives us a clearer perspective on life and can have significant health benefits. It helps our whole society if people have stimulating outside spaces on their doorstep that they want to visit regularly. That’s why part of our job, as new-build developers, is to provide this.
Yet with so many of us having been confined to home during these unprecedented times, the significance of a development’s outside space is in sharp focus. In normal circumstances they’re places where groups of people can come together and bond, turning a collection of houses into a community. Indeed, evidence is emerging that shows outdoor areas’ importance has notably increased during lockdown – a recent survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors suggested almost three quarters of British real estate agents are expecting a greater demand for homes near parks and other outside spaces.
It’s something we have always prioritised at Legal & General Homes, and each of our sites has a variety of outdoor places including children’s playgrounds, playing fields and natural areas. I’m proud of the work we’ve done, going beyond our commitments by including more publicly accessible green space and delivering it earlier than is required, so that it benefits existing communities from day one.
At Buckler’s Park, we’ve created Buckler’s Forest, planting 20,000 trees on over 100 acres of land – each one a specific variety and age to make a habitat that fosters a wide array of wildlife. There’s a range of paths within the trees, grassland and heath, adapted from the old Transport Research Laboratory racetracks which the development is built upon, that are used by residents and the wider public for walking, cycling and running.
Private outdoor spaces offer a different respite and gardens, or roof terraces, should be areas that you can personalise and relax in all year round. They can be used for growing plants, as a miniature football pitch or even as a place to work – possibly for all three. It’s important that gardens have the flexibility to adapt to people’s varied needs, no matter the size.
At Legal & General Homes we make sure this is the case. Our installed bi-fold doors at each of our developments provide easy access to gardens (even when it is raining!) and we offer lawns, fencing and planters at no extra cost.
As much as our neighbourhoods are for people, they are also for native wildlife, flora and fauna. Few people are aware that new build developments like ours improve local biodiversity and the range of species in an area.
At Buckler’s Park, the new forest is for our residents, as well as the wider community. Our ranger, Conrad, manages the diverse ecosystem that exists among the trees, including secretive Nightjar birds and rare Emerald Dragonflies. Educational boards placed around the area are packed full of information about the woodland’s species and the local area’s heritage. In normal circumstances Conrad runs monthly nature walks that anyone can join, where people can learn in-depth details about the forest and conservation – something we hope to continue in the future.
We believe the homes we build also have a part to play in helping local wildlife thrive – special hedgehog highways mean smaller animals can move between fenced gardens as they forage for food and integrated bee bricks allow solitary insects to nest in the walls of houses.
Having an exciting range of outside spaces on your doorstep is a key feature for any property, and rightfully so. We consider it a necessity, so all of our developments have a variety of outdoor places – green areas, community amenities and private gardens – for people to enjoy, many of which are ready before the first residents have even moved in. You shouldn’t have to settle for anything less.
John Allan, Managing Director, Legal & General Homes