Communities will be helped to bring the countryside into the city thanks to the launch of a new scheme to generate more green space in England’s towns and cities, Environment Minister Richard Benyon announced today.
With free space in urban areas in short supply, the Green Infrastructure Partnership has been designed to help communities make more innovative use of existing grey infrastructure - such as creating rooftop gardens, small community gardens or living walls.
Environment Minister Richard Benyon said:
“Green spaces are not only important for our health and well-being; they also create places where people want to invest, generating new jobs and businesses.
“We’re used to thinking about drab, grey infrastructure - the roads, drains, power lines and other things on which we all depend. It is now time to place the same level of emphasise on our green infrastructure.
“Today’s Partnership launch will help local neighbourhoods to do just that - be it by planting over a dull grey wall or designing a garden in the sky on an unused roof.
“It will provide communities with the expertise they need to bring the countryside into the city and create places where people want to live and work.”
The benefits of green infrastructure are compelling - a recent study of over 350,000 people found that people who lived near to green space lived longer and health inequalities were significantly reduced.
The Natural Environment White Paper therefore committed to enhancing green infrastructure and improving communities’ health, quality of life and resilience to climate change.
As those who have already successfully created green areas are best placed to help others, the new Green Infrastructure Partnership will be made up of planning professionals, landscape architects and environmental interest groups alongside organisations such as Natural England, the Landscape Institute and the Environment Agency.
It will bring people together from across the country to address the issues they face. It will also produce useful materials to help those who are looking to create a green area in their local community.
The Partnership, which is being launched as part of the first White Paper on the Natural Environment in 20 years, will initially run for up to two years. Their general aims will be to:
- look at the condition of green infrastructure across England and how it meets communities’ needs;
- investigate the scope for improvements, and look at the barriers to green infrastructure in existing areas to meet future challenges such as climate change;
- consider how local communities, planners and decision-makers can best be supported in designing and developing green infrastructure;
- demonstrate the social, economic and environmental benefits that well designed green infrastructure can provide; and
- help people to quantify the costs and benefits of investing in green infrastructure and make the case for new projects.
The first manifestation of the Green Infrastructure Partnership is the publication today of Local Green Infrastructure: Helping Communities make the most of their Landscape by the Landscape Institute.
Speaking about the publication, Jo Watkins, President of the Landscape Institute said:
“We want to inspire everyone to make changes in their neighbourhoods by thinking about what’s offered by the natural environment. As our case studies show, natural green open space attracts businesses to invest in an area, adds value to property, provides an educational resource and brings together local communities.
“Harnessing nature and making better use of our limited supply of land can therefore promote sustainable economic development and open up new employment opportunities.”
Bob Neill, Minister Communities and Local Government said:
“Sustainable development must go hand in hand with protecting and making the best use of our valuable green spaces and rural corridors. The Green Infrastructure Partnership will be a key player in helping to develop the full potential of England’s green infrastructure and demonstrating its social, economic and environmental benefits.”
Notes to editors
The Natural Environment White Paper contained a commitment to create a Green Infrastructure Partnership.
“The Government will establish a Green Infrastructure Partnership to support the development of green infrastructure in England. This will consider how green infrastructure can be enhanced to strengthen ecological networks and improve communities’ health, quality of life and resilience to climate change.”
A definition of ‘green infrastructure’ was outlined in the The Natural Environment White Paper as - “a term used to refer to the living network of green spaces, water and other environmental features in both urban and rural areas. It is often used in an urban context to cover benefits provided by trees, parks, gardens, road verges, allotments, cemeteries, woodlands, rivers and wetlands. Green infrastructure is also relevant in a rural context, where it might refer to the use of farmland, woodland, wetlands or other natural features to provide services such as flood protection, carbon storage or water purification. Green infrastructure maintains critical ecological links between town and country.”
The Landscape Institute is the royal chartered body for landscape architects. It is a professional organisation and educational charity working to protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment for the public benefit. It accredits university courses and promotes professional development to ensure that landscape architects deliver the highest standards of practice. It works with government to improve the planning, design and management of urban and rural landscape. Through its advocacy programmes and support to its members it champions landscape, and the landscape profession, in order to inspire great places where people want to live, work and visit. Visit www.Landscapeinstitute.org for more information or follow the Institute on twitter: @talklandscape
This Partnership does not affect the planning or re-designation of land - just provide local communities the support they need to create more green space in the area they live.
Further information on the Green Infrastructure Partnership can be found at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/natural/green-infrastructure