Green Infrastructure

Garden communities should provide a generous amount of green space. They should be set within a multifunctional and integrated natural and historic environment, providing space for nature, making the community more resilient to the climate, promoting healthy lifestyles and creating attractive places to live and work.

As stated by the Landscape Institute, green infrastructure is the network of natural and semi-natural features, green spaces, rivers and lakes that intersperse and connect villages, towns and cities. It constitutes a natural, service-providing infrastructure that is often more cost-effective, more resilient and more capable of meeting social, environmental and economic objectives than ‘grey’ infrastructure.

Good green infrastructure should create visually attractive places that are culturally and environmentally rich. They should reflect the power of the natural environment to enhance our wellbeing, improve mental health and promote relaxation. A wide range of green and open spaces should be provided, including neighbourhood and pocket parks. Green infrastructure should be linked visually and physically, as connectivity enhances public engagement with the natural environment.

Green infrastructure should also be multifunctional, providing amenity space for formal and passive recreation and creating a haven for wildlife and biodiversity. It should aid the management of surface water drainage by integrating surface water storage, bio-filtration cleaning and reuse, rain gardens, swales and attenuation ponds within the landscape. All publicly accessible green spaces should be accessible to all, accommodating people with disabilities through innovative design and benefitting from active and passive surveillance.

Preferably, 50% of a garden community’s surface area should be allocated to green infrastructure (half of which should be publicly accessible), consisting of a network of multifunctional, well-managed, high-quality open spaces linking to the wider green infrastructure and ecological networks as well as residential and communal gardens. Garden communities should aim to create a culture of stewardship, health and wellbeing, using existing natural assets to their full potential and incorporating them into the design.

An early coordination of all relevant disciplines (landscape, flood, utilities and built environment) is encouraged to ensure a holistic design, and to ensure the best use of green infrastructure. Existing local assets such as woodland copses, hedgerows and small watercourses should be used as structural elements of a comprehensive green infrastructure network, and a defining place-making characteristic of garden communities.

An important aim is for green infrastructure to deliver a broad mix of uses that encourages people to be more self-sufficient, and to encourage on-site food production through the provision of allotments, community gardens and orchards. Community gardens encourage sustainable land management and can provide safe, recreational green spaces with the potential to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.


Building with Nature: The UK’s first green infrastructure benchmark

Building with Nature was developed to ensure that developments will deliver for the natural world and healthy communities, allowing people to live closer to nature. It is a voluntary accreditation scheme that enables developers, who want to go beyond the statutory requirements, to create places that deliver high quality green infrastructure. The scheme brings together guidance and good practice and has been developed by practitioners and policy makers, academic experts and end-users.

Page updated: 28/04/2020

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