Green development is more sustainable and delivers important environmental, social, health and economic benefits. Green space can be used as a community resource and provides recreational benefits, aids social cohesion, improves quality of life and increases property values. Trees and plants contribute to tackling climate change as well as providing habitats for different species.
Cycling and walking paths are an integral part of the landscape that encourage active modes of transport, healthier lifestyles and improved accessibility. The 'Landscape’ section also includes references to community spaces for growing food and integrated sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) – the first time such subjects have been covered by the Essex Design Guide.
Landscape is addressed within the following sections of the guide which should also be referenced:
- Landscape and strategic open spaces should be co-located within the layouts of new developments. High-quality communal spaces should be provided with supporting facilities and infrastructure which encourage activity by all users.
- Amenity spaces should be provided in a format that is multifunctional and flexible, and which can therefore be adapted (presently and over time) to cater for a range of uses by people of all ages and abilities.
- Green infrastructure should be allowed to shape and structure developments, while good landscape design should provide wayfinding cues and sensory stimulation – features which can provide valuable reassurance to older people and those with dementia.
- Amenity spaces should be aligned to make best use of sunlight, thereby encouraging residents to use outside spaces.
- The impact of the built environment on the local environment should be mitigated with green infrastructure features including green roofs, gardens and planted walls.
- The provision and type of ground surfaces should be considered from the outset of any development, and an approach taken that balances the needs of all users in terms of patterns, colours and materials with the technical requirements and future maintenance of highways.
- Existing ecology and natural habitats found on sites must be safeguarded and enhanced, and new opportunities for increasing biodiversity should be explored.
- Opportunities for community food production should be integrated into the proposed landscape.
- Surface water run-off systems should be considered to minimise flood risk and increase biodiversity.
- Care should be taken in the selection of tree and shrub species that are appropriate to the area, fitting in scale and colour, climatic requirements and growth habits.
- The future management and care of green spaces and infrastructure should be considered at the planning stage.
- Landscape proposals should look to ensure proposed landscape schemes complement and draw from the positive aspects of the sites wider landscape setting, this often identified through landscape or townscape character assessment.
- Have private communal spaces been designed to encourage a range of activities – including activities for all genders, cultures, ages and people of a range of physical and mental abilities?
- Is there a coherent network of spaces that can be created? Are spaces joined to make a coherent multifunctional green network?
- Does the proposed landscape and green space support the broader needs of residents, including their mental health?
- Do the proposals encourage residents to eat more healthily by providing opportunities for communal food-growing?
- Are amenity spaces suitably flexible to allow changes in their use over time by people of all ages and a range of physical and mental abilities?
- Have SuDS areas ben integrated into the overall open space / green network and laid out so as to provide high quality open space opportunities.