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It's the latest thing - a really wild garden

Daily Telegraph - 23rd October 1999

by Jenny Knight

Badgers, dormice, even snails are being used by builders as key selling points for new homes.

FORGET wonderful gardens, great views and state-of-the-art conservatories; the latest must-have for new homes is the turquoise flash of a kingfisher's wings whizzing past your windows, or the glimpse of frolicking badger cubs in the garden at dusk.

Wildlife and ecology are now key selling points in the homes market. Developers no longer raze old buildings. Tiles, lead trimmings and attractively shaped windows are carefully dismantled by hand so that they can be reused. Nor is heavy machinery sent in to level the ground. Instead, delicate ecological surveys are undertaken to ensure no rare creepy-crawlies are crushed.

The housebuilder Countryside Properties included a newly constructed badger sett as a free extra when it redeveloped Thorndon Approach, in the village of Herongate, Essex. Newcomers to the village are Nick and Sandy Dawson and their children, who moved into a four-bedroom house there this summer.

Nick said: "Having our own badger sett will be a real talking point. I had some doubts about destructiveness and disease, but our three girls, who are all under six, are so excited. They love animals. We will probably end up feeding the badgers. The new garden is a large one, and three-quarters of it is like forest, with the badger sett right at the back."

.....

Tony Carey, the chairman of St George, said: "You have to be very hard-nosed not to get a pleasure from working with flora and fauna. On our Kew riverside site, our ecologist found some rare two-lipped snails. We will protect them with a fenced area left to overgrow naturally.

"This makes us and probably our buyers feel good, but I don't anticipate that the snails will have a roaring effect on sales."

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