The government has issued new specific guidance on Green Infrastructure (GI) as part of their National Planning Practice Guidance. It’s been published to help with the implementation of the main national planning document, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for England.
The NPPF defines Green Infrastructure as a network of multi-functional green space, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits for local communities.
The new guidance extends that definition further: Green infrastructure is not simply an alternative description for conventional open space. As a network it includes parks, open spaces, playing fields, woodlands, but also street trees, allotments and private gardens. It can also include streams, canals and other water bodies and features such as green roofs and walls.
While the NPPF refers to GI in the context of climate change, flooding and coastal change as well as the natural environment, any further details on how to deliver GI have been missing so far.
The new guidance, published on the 11th of February 2016, forms a new dedicated chapter within the Natural Environment Section of the National Planning Policy Guidance (http://planningguidance.communities.gov.uk/blog/guidance/natural-environment/green-infrastructure/). It defines the concept of GI in more detail and clearly sets out its multiple benefits for the individual, society, the economy and the environment. This leads on to how GI can contribute to sustainable development as a whole and specifically help the delivery of a number of other planning policies relating to housing, healthy communities, climate change and flooding, the natural environment as well as building a strong and healthy economy.
Overall, the new guidance gives GI a lot more weight, saying that Green infrastructure should … be a key consideration in both local plans and planning decisions where relevant. The potential benefits of GI are, of course, well known to us and it is great to see them increasingly manifested in national and local planning policy.
As a multi-disciplinary practice, Johns Associates is perfectly placed to maximise the benefits Green Infrastructure can bring to a scheme.