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Green Infrastructure: connected and multifunctional landscapes Annie Coombs FLI

Green Infrastructure:

connected and multifunctional landscapes

Annie Coombs FLI

Contents• Position Statement preparation• Origins, Definitions, Chronology

– European Landscape Convention• Funding• Benefits• Assets, Resource• Functions, Approach, Scale

– The Mersey Forest / Weaver Valley• Strategies

– South Essex & Thurrock’s Green Grid• Landscape Profession

Photos throughout illustrate green infrastructure designed, managed, assessed, studied by landscape architects.

Position Statement• LI Policy Committee recommended

topics• GI seen very much as the province

of the landscape profession• Small working group• Call for case studies and comments

on text from all LI members• Sub-group met to decide on case

studies• Edits to text• Reviewed by Executive Committee

and “critical friends”• Launched (May 2009)• Use (lobbying, consultation

responses etc)

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“Can I congratulate the Landscape Institute on the position statement for Green Infrastructure. With so many simplifications and misunderstandings as to what GI really offers, this statement is clear, lacking waffle and usable.”

“My planning colleagues who are currently preparing the Council’s GI SPD as part of the Core Strategy think it looks excellent and would like to use it as part of the launch and publicity of the Borough's GI policy”

Origin of the term GIEd McMahon

“Green space is not an amenity, it’s a necessity.” This is the phrase that underpins his concept of green infrastructure. “We coined the term to reposition the idea for the public,” explaining that the idea itself is not a new one.

Definitions (1)• Explosion of interest doesn’t

equate to increased understanding• GI is term that can mean different

things to different people• A number of definitions available • Significant common ground within

the available definitions:– GI involves natural and managed

green areas in both urban and rural settings

– GI is about the strategic connection of open green areas and

– GI should provide multiple benefits for people (public benefit).


Definitions (2):PPS 12

“Green infrastructure is a network of multi-functional green space, both new and existing, both rural and urban, which supports the natural and ecological processes and is integral to the health and quality of life of sustainable communities”

Definitions (3): Milton Keynes

“A planned network of multifunctional green-spaces and interconnecting links, which is designed, developed and managed to meet the environmental, social and economic needs of communities across the sub-region. It is set within, and contributes to a high quality natural and built environment and is required to enhance the quality of life for the present and future residents and visitors and to deliver liveability for sustainable communities.”** Planning Sustainable Communities: A green infrastructure guide for Milton Keynes and the South Midlands

Definitions (4):Natural England

“Green Infrastructure (GI) is a strategically planned and delivered network of high quality green spaces and other environmental features. It should be designed and managed as a multifunctional resource capable of delivering a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits for local communities. Green Infrastructure includes parks, open spaces, playing fields, woodlands, allotments and private gardens.”www.naturalengland.org.uk

Definitions (5): Northwest Region

“Green Infrastructure is the Region’s life support system – the network of natural environmental components and green and blue spaces that lies within and between the Northwest’s cities, towns and villages and which provides multiple social, economic and environmental benefits”


Definitions (5) “Green infrastructure is the physical environment within and between our cities, towns and villages. It is a network of multi-functional open spaces, including formal parks, gardens, woodlands, green corridors, waterways, street trees and open countryside. It comprises all environmental resources, and thus a green infrastructure approach also contributes towards sustainable resource management.”


GI Chronology• Victorian Parks and city fathers• Frederick Law Olmstead (Central Park etc)• Garden cities movement• 1947 Acts (green belt, national parks, AONBs)• New Towns’ movement• Ian McHarg: Design with Nature• Regional Parks• Groundwork Trust• Community forests, National forests• Ed McMahon coins the phrase “GI”• PPG17, green flag, open space strategies• Increasing use of GIS• Growth points, ecotowns, city regions• European Landscape Convention (ELC)• Regional Spatial Strategy policy (NW)• Forthcoming planning policy on GI (England)

European Landscape Convention (ELC)Article 1 of the ELC states:

“ “Landscape” means an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors. The term “landscape” is thus defined as a zone or area as perceived by local people or visitors, whose visual features and character are the result of the action of natural and/or cultural (that is, human) factors. This definition reflects the idea that landscapes evolve through time, as a result of being acted upon by natural forces and human beings. It also underlines that a landscape forms a whole, whose natural and cultural components are taken together, not separately.”

ELC (2)The ELC was signed by the UK government February 2006; ratified November 2006, and became binding on 1 March 2007. Specific measure include:• raising awareness widely of the value of landscapes and society's role in shaping them; • promoting landscape education among landscape specialists, other related professions, and in schools and universities; • Identification, assessment of landscapes, and analysis of landscape change, with the active participation of stakeholders; • setting objectives for landscape quality, with the involvement of the public; • the implementation of landscape policies, through the establishment of plans and practical programmes.

GI fundingCABE & Natural England:• call on local and central government

to set new priorities for funding high-quality GI, highlighting the imbalance between investment in green & grey infrastructures.

• say towns and cities could be transformed if GI receives a fraction of the public investment made in other areas.

• suggest the government’s green stimulus package for low carbon housing be extended to incorporate GI; as part of a wider move to target public expenditure on greening cities.

GI funding (2)“A switch of public spending from grey to green infrastructure would trigger an environmental revolution. At a time when investment in grey infrastructure, such as the new road building and road improvement programmes, runs into billions, investment in green infrastructure remains tiny. We have to redesign our cities in response to the imperative of climate change, and this means investment in hundreds of thousands of green roofs, millions more street trees, more parks, and new urban greenways.”

Richard Simmons, CABE’s chief executive

GI funding (3)• Leadership (local authority champions)

• Professional co-ordination

• Community empowerment

• GI skills (not just “green” technology jobs) “CABE believes we need a minimum of 550 new entrants annually on to LI accredited courses from 2010 and beyond to meet future demand”

• Galvanise a GI Taskforce

• Need for single shared information resource (quantity, type, function and quality).

Benefits• Climate change adaptation• Climate change mitigation• Water management• Dealing with waste• Food production• Biodiversity enhancement• Economic value• Local distinctiveness• Education• Health and recreation• Stronger communities

Economic benefits of GI• Flood alleviation & water

management• Economic growth & investment• Tourism• Climate change adaptation and

mitigation• Quality of place• Health & well-being• Land & property values• Labour productivity• Recreation and leisure• Land & biodiversity• Products from the landwww.nwda.co.uk/pdf/EconomicValueofGreenInfrastructure.pdf

GI assets & resource• GI assets are:

– Particular areas of land and water– Serve one or more functions of

public benefit by virtue of:• Use• Location• Intrinsic value

• Multifunctionality• GI resource is a collective of:

– open spaces, public places, rivers & coast, farmland, woodlands, natural elements & gardens.

GI functions (the case for GI)• Stimulating sport, recreation & play;• Improving health;• Sustaining biodiversity;• Protecting soil, water & natural

resources;• Buffering extreme weather events• Providing a comfortable urban

environment;• Creating distinctive settings;• Improving coast and water quality;• Sustaining cultural and historical places;• Stimulating business and regeneration;• Creating meeting points for cohesive

societies;• Inspiring community environmental

stewardship;• Maintaining productive rural landscapes.

GI approach• Have a vision• Wide range of functions• Unlock maximum # of benefits• Demand more from the land• Manage conflicting demands• Retain single/limited land use

functions in some areas• Ecosystem services:

– Support (necessary for all – soils, photosynthesis etc)

– Provision (food, fuel ..)– Regulations (air/water quality, erosion)– Culture (aesthetics, heritage, recreation)

The Mersey ForestAnd St Helens Countryside in and around Towns

GI conference – Jan 2005

Green InfrastructureUnit (March 2005)

Work on Regional Spatial Strategy

Think tank establishedMay 2006)

GI Guide

GI Forum set up May 2007

GI in the climate change action plan

Critical GI work (economic benefits)

NENW - reports – economic values, tests and case studies

Sub GI regional plansInvestment ForumLDF work GIU Service

Sept 08 RSS Approved

Regional Economic Strategy

Natural Economy NW June 2007


GI in the North West

NW GI Prospectus4 places:• Areas that will experience major

change; economic priority and/or housing growth

• Areas where enhancement could lead to improved economic performance and quality of life gain

• Areas where GI can support regeneration, development & action on climate change – overcoming “pinch points”

• Areas of known environmental deficit.

Lancashire GI StrategyStrategic Objectives• Improve quality of place• Improve health and well being• Create setting for investment• Enhance tourism, recreation

and leisure• Enhance biodiversity and

ecosytem services• Adapt to and mitigate the

climate change effects• Grow and develop regional

parks in Lancashire

The Mersey Forest

• The North West GI Guide sets out a 5-stage process for green infrastructure planning:

1. Partnership and priorities2. Data audit and green infrastructure

resource mapping3. Functional assessment4. Needs assessment5. Intervention plan.

1. Partnership & prioritiesThe Mersey Forest Delivery Plan 2009 - 2014

• Goals delivered achieve partners’ objectives:– Public service agreements– Local Area Agreements– Local Authority strategies (health,

education, open space, regeneration..)– Regional Forestry Framework– Regional Spatial Strategy– Regional Climate Change Action Plan– Regional Economic Strategy.

• Gross Value Added (GVA)– Developing ways to assess Mersey

Forest achievements against partners’ monitoring targets of outcomes and outputs.

2. Resource mapping: Types• general amenity space • outdoor sports facilities • woodland • water courses • water bodies • grassland, heathland & moorland • coastal habitat • agricultural land • allotments, community gardens & urban

farms• cemeteries, churchyards & burial grounds • derelict land • private domestic gardens• trees • institutional grounds • wetlands • other?? (e.g. verges) • orchard street trees

3. GI functions:(Cheshire sub-region)

•recreation - public•recreation - private•green travel route•aesthetic•water storage•water interception•water infiltration / natural drainage•storm protection -coastal•shading from sun•evaporative cooling•trapping pollutants•noise absorption

•habitat for wildlife•corridor for wildlife•soil stabilisation•heritage•cultural asset•carbon storage•food production•timber production•biofuelsproduction•water supply•wind shelter•learning

3.& 4. GI Functions: definition & need•recreation – public

–DEFINITION: area anyone can use without having to pay or get keys– GREATEST NEED: high population density (present & future), low population mobility, poor health, much leisure time

•water storage–DEFINITION: Stores flood waters.–GREATEST NEED: upstream of urban areas intersecting flood plains

•shading from sun–DEFINITION: Shading of people, buildings, and surfaces from solar radiation. –GREATEST NEED: high population density (present & future), high quality agricultural land, schools, shopping areas, visitor attractions

Mouth of the Weaver

3. Functions: Mouth of the Weaver

GI Scales:

GI Strategies• Need to operate at the relevant scale / level• Sub-regional and regional• Embed GI across a range of policies / themes / strategies• Robust and flexible enough to react to political change - Tories committed to remove the English RDAs

GI /Open Space differencesGreen Infrastructure

• Usually sub-regional or county/ landscape scale

• Includes access to wider countryside

• A framework for growth• Emphasis on multi-

functionality and the use of natural processes and systems to promote and enhance sustainability

• New strategic provision can’t be fully funded by developers through S106 (but CIL …?)

• Hope value constraints

Green/Open Space• District or neighbourhood

- largely site-based• Often mainly settlements

and urban fringe• Emphasis on meeting local

needs, identified through audits and local consultations

• Quality and accessibility, not just quantity

• New local provision can be funded substantially by developers

Thames Gateway

South Essex Grid

Thurrock’s GI & Green Grid





Roles of landscape professionals• Multidisciplinary approach• All scales• Contributing to:

– Policy guidance– Strategies– Local Development Frameworks– Character/Sensitivity studies– Development control– Environmental assessment– Masterplanning– Design and implementation– Management– Research– Facilitation & creative engagement

What you can do....• Raise awareness about GI• Lobby planning system at all levels• Adopt a multi-disciplinary approach• Press for vision for the natural

environment and functions• Ignore administrative boundaries –

promote ELC “landscape” definition• Promote advance consideration – GI

often needed before growth (levies)• Make the case for revenue as well as

capital expenditure• Argue for investment in management• Communicate the benefits• Involve the private sector• Provide case studies to the LI library.

Photo credits• Giles Barnard• Bill Blackledge• Cheshire East • Cheshire West and Chester• Annie Coombs• Chris Driver• Gillespies• Groundwork• Gustafsson Porter• HED• Andy Lane• North Lincolnshire Council• ODA• Place Design + Planning Ltd• Mike Roberts• TEP• Townshend Landscape Architects• Karen Wright Photography


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