Environmental net gain

Natural Capital logo


The Natural capital relates to the protection and enhancement of the environment, both within the local context and through contributing to wider climate and biodiversity challenges.

Why it matters

We invest not only in quantity but in quality of the green and blue infrastructure we provide. We seek to incorporate nature at the core of all our development sites, preserving existing features of value and capturing every opportunity to enhance the environment, enabling people and nature to flourish collectively. The re-use and re-purposing of the land we develop seeks at all times to provide environmental net gain for the communities we create.

This includes early tree planting to maximise sequestration potential and improve health and wellbeing attributes within our sites, creating usable and sustainable green landscape, effective surface water management and the responsible use of natural resources.

Action areas

  • Enhanced landscaping
  • Enhanced biodiversity
  • Resource efficiency

Developed landscaping

Our focus in this area is the targeted provision of an incredible element of green infrastructure: new trees. Trees are one of the most powerful weapons in the fight against climate change, removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. In addition, they can help to prevent flooding, reduce temperature and pollution, and keep soil rich in nutrients. Providing more of them is also directly linked to addressing two of the three universal challenges we have identified as being relevant to sustainability in the built environment: biodiversity and health and wellbeing.


2025 target: 

  • Plant an average of 25 trees for each house occupied by 2025.


Over the course of 2022/23, the average number of trees planted per household across all strategic land sites stayed the same as 2021/22, at 32,  and continued to exceed our 2025 target. Newark significantly increased its tree planting ratio from one to nine trees per household and to a lesser extent Priors Hall increased its ratio also. Alconbury, Rugby and Wintringham all reduced slightly. Waterbeach wasn’t included last year as no homes had been  built, but this year there are 609 trees per household currently built on site reflecting the significantly early tree planting already undertaken.. This will level off with time as further houses are built. Going forward we will endeavour to maintain this average score and target it for each site as housebuilding across our sites continues thereby reducing the initial benefit of early placemaking and landscaping.

Action Area 1 Enhanced landscaping- Connecting people with nature

Graph showing number of trees per household each individual site has planted to date.

Enhanced biodiversity

Our commitment to increasing ecological value on our developments is not new. However, we have redefined our approach to maximise our biodiversity net gain for stronger and more resilient local ecosystems.


2025 target: 

  • Achieve 25% biodiversity net gain as a minimum overall on all our sites.


In 2021/22 the U&C assessment methodology for biodiversity net gain (BNG) was changed to the  latest Defra metric as opposed to the Warwickshire County Council (WCC) metric. Over the course of 2022/23, the BNG assessments  for Priors Hall and Newark were updated and compared  with the previous year. The subsequent average score for all sites in delivery was 26%, currently exceeding the 2025 target. The only sites falling below the 25% target are Hinxton and Priors Hall.Over time, we expect that as further key phases come forward across the sites, the BNG scores will trend upwards.

Action Area 2 Enhanced biodiversity- Net gain on our sites

Graph showing average biodiversity net gain data for each individual site over the 2021/22 to 2022/23 reporting periods.

Resource efficiency

Resource efficiency is of paramount importance to us. We seek to maximise the incorporation of key circular economy principles in our schemes to ensure efficient use of natural resources and the minimisation of waste sent to landfill. We will also collaborate with our housebuilder partners to define suitable targets for water consumption in dwellings and recycling rates.


2025 target: 

  • Divert from landfill a minimum 95% construction and demolition waste.


Contractors appointed by U&C maintained their good performance over recent years to divert construction and demolition waste from landfill. In 2022/23 the diversion rate was 99%. All strategic sites in delivery, with the exception of Alconbury, Hinxton and Priors Hall, bettered the 95% target.

Action Area 3 Resource efficiency- Championing the circular economy

Graph tracking the total demolition and construction waste diverted from landfill as a percentage of waste generated on all Urban&Civic developments.

Case studies

A buzzing community event

It was a pleasure to be involved in the fantastic Bee Fayre Celebration at Wootton St Lawrence Church for the first time this year.

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Hands on help for our communities

U&C’s first corporate volunteering month saw over 50 employees getting out into our communities, supporting local projects and learning new skills whilst also giving employees the chance to work with team members from across our sites and business functions.

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An Away Day in In-tents conditions

The 2022 Employee Away Day was the first two day full team event since 2019. 

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New woodland area for Priors Hall School

As part of Urban&Civic’s wider landscape works at Priors Hall we have delivered and planted 550 trees, including three mature 4.5m silver birch trees, apple trees, alder buckthorn, field maple, hornbeam and shrubby honeysuckle amongst others, to create a forest garden within Priors Hall Primary School.

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Exploring Wintringham

Urban&Civic has put health and wellbeing at the heart of Wintringham, and the team has worked hard to create something really special; with space for people to enjoy, space for nature to thrive, and space where people and nature can co-exist in harmony.

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Wild Weald: Discovering local wildlife

Over the last year, there has been a surge of interest in nature and wildlife in the local area. To help explore the network of green corridors, pockets of woodlands, grassland and waterway at Alconbury Weald, naturalist and TV presenter Mike Dilger hosted a series of ‘Wild Weald’ events to introduce residents to the abundance of wildlife on their doorstep.

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Really Wild

Outdoor activities were high on the agenda at Houlton in Summer 2021. May saw the return of the popular Really Wild at Houlton Event where TV Presenter Mike Dilger spent two days on site educating residents on ecology, wildlife, and vegetation.

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Wintringham Brook restoration

The historic brooks at Wintringham will be reinvigorated by the development as blue networks running east to west and ultimately connecting up to the Great Ouse as it works its way through St Neots. 

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Gulley opening unlocks nature trail for residents

Priors Hall Park’s residents have a new way to stay healthy and appreciate the wildlife on their doorstep as ‘The Gulley’, its 25 acre nature reserve and county wildlife site has been completed and is now open to walk through.

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Green skills remain a part of the landscape at Wintringham

Volunteers taking part in Groundwork’s latest Green Team project spent four weeks building, installing and planting pots and planters along Pelham Road and outside the new Urban&Civic office.

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A bumper harvest of interest in Houlton’s first crop of allotments

October saw Houlton, Rugby deliver 39 brand new allotments to some lucky green fingered residents.

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