Built-Up Areas & Gardens

Built-Up Areas & Gardens - John Miller - Explore Kent

Current Status

Built-up areas & gardens is the term given to urban and rural settlements, caravan parks, farm buildings, industrial estates, retail parks, waste and derelict land, urban parkland, transport infrastructure, domestic gardens, allotments, churchyards and cemeteries. It is defined by the UK BAP as a broad habitat type. In Kent, these areas are considered a local priority and are therefore the focus of a dedicated action plan. Their conservation importance lies as much in the opportunities that they provide for people to have close contact with wildlife as in the protection of scarce species.

Commonly found throughout built-up areas & gardens is a myriad of residual, semi-natural and natural habitats for example, woodland, rivers, streams and ponds, coastal shingle and species-rich hedgerows; each of these of significant biodiversity value. The great crested newt, for example - a UK BAP priority species for which Kent is a stronghold - is associated with a number of these habitats, including hedgerows, woodland, ponds and non-amenity grassland.

Domestic gardens, allotments and churchyards provide suitable habitats for UK BAP priority species such as the song thrush and bullfinch as well as those species more commonly seen, such as the fox, hedgehog, frog and toad. There are also certain species that have a strong association with buildings where structures often mimic their favoured natural habitats, for example bats, house martins and swifts. If sympathetically managed, urban parks and industrial estates can provide good wildlife habitat. Similarly, the biodiversity interest of brownfield sites may be greater than that of large areas of the countryside. In Kent, brownfield sites support some of the country's most important populations of reptiles & invertebrates.

While public and/or private sites can be managed specifically for wildlife, providing suitable access to these areas of natural and semi-natural green space within urban areas is essential if local communities and individuals are to benefit.

The demand for new homes in the south east of England is growing. This action plan seeks to promote the need to carefully design and landscape both existing and new developments in Kent so that biodiversity is recognised and opportunities for wildlife are maximised; both for biodiversity in its own right and for the benefits biodiversity brings to local communities.


Negative factors:

  • The further encroachment of the built environment on open space and the increased fragmentation of areas important for wildlife.
  • The proposed large-scale development in the growth areas of Thames Gateway and Ashford.
  • A declining number of mature trees in urban areas.
  • The development of 'brownfield' sites can result in the loss of bat roosting, hibernating and foraging sites.
  • The increased density of new houses and associated reduction in garden size can lead to a loss in the continuation of habitats suitable for species to forage, breed and nest. Furthermore, the design of new houses can reduce the opportunity for birds and bats to roost and nest.

Positive factors:

  • The sympathetic management of public open space providing opportunities for wildlife.
  • The requirement of planning policies to have regard for biodiversity when considering planning applications in terms of how a new development will conserve and enhance biodiversity.
  • The requirement that biodiversity is an integral component of local and regional planning, i.e. opportunities for biodiversity as a part of the forward planning in Local Development Frameworks.
  • The accessibility of community initiatives that offer opportunities for people to be involved in the conservation of open space.
  • The planting of new trees in urban areas.

Current Action

  • Provision of Government guidance to planning authorities on both how to enhance existing public open space and plan new open space with consideration to their importance for wildlife
  • Green Grid and Wildlife Corridor initiatives
  • Designation of sites as Local Nature Reserves (LNRs), Local Wildlife Sites (SNCIs) and Roadside Nature Reserves (RNRs)
  • Sympathetic management of public open space
  • The Gardening for Wildlife awards scheme
  • Community initiatives for nature conservation
  • Environmental education initiatives, e.g. Wildwood, Canterbury Environment Education Centre.
  • Business and Biodiversity initiative
  • Building for Nature project *Kent Landscape Information System *ANGSt (Accessible Natural Green Space Standards) being incorporated in open space strategies. *Pond and Tree warden schemes *Local planning authorities should take into consideration the nature conservation value of a tree when placing Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)


  1. Maintain and enhance the current extent and quality of natural and semi-natural habitats within built-up areas & gardens.
  2. Improve the biodiversity of built-up areas & gardens by increasing awareness to the benefits of, and encouraging, management sympathetic to wildlife.
  3. Raise the profile of positive planning for biodiversity in accordance with planning policy guidance/statements.
  4. Inform and influence the planning of existing and new public open space by encouraging the adoption of appropriate accessible natural green space standards (ANGSt) in all urban areas to ensure that biodiversity is adequately considered within open space strategies required by PPG17.
  5. Ensure biodiversity is incorporated in the development of community strategies.
  6. Promote the importance of biodiversity as a component of the Sustainable Communities agenda.

Relevant Habitat Action Plans

The relevant UK Habitat Action Plans:

The relevant UK Species Action Plans:

The relevant Kent Habitat Action Plans:

  • Ancient &/or species-rich hedgerows
  • Chalk rivers
  • Mixed broadleaved woodland and plantations in ancient woodland sites
  • Standing open water