The Mayor of London and team behind Nine Elms and the US Embassy stress the importance they place on green infrastructure at conference.

Green infrastructure enthusiasts include US embassy team and Mayor of London

The event was a Green Infrastructure day run by the the Landscape Institute and Garden Museum as part of the latter’s High Line Symposium. It focused on  delivering the next generation of green infrastructure from concept to completion, whether analysing iconic multimillion-pound projects or applauding left-field competition entries.

Matthew Pencharz, the London mayor’s environment adviser, said that Boris Johnson would continue to launch initiatives to ‘attract inward investment’ and build on work from his first mayoral term such as creation of pocket parks, tree planting and major infrastructure such as Crossrail.

And in a video link Johnson told the conference Londoners ‘are humbled by the phenomenal success on the High Line, which is why I’m pleased we are now looking at ways of emulating the achievement’, he said of the LI High Line ideas competition won by Fletcher Priest.

Nigel Hughes, estate surveyor at Grosvenor, said that a turning point on GI for the developer of Mayfair and Belgravia came five years ago when it noticed the shabbiness of spaces between residential squares. It launched a 20-year strategy to improve visual identity.

Seminal reports, including Cabe Space’s Paved with Gold, gave unstoppable momentum to green infrastructure and prompted Grosvenor to invest in public realm such as street trees, art by Antony Gormley and Japanese architect Tadao Ando and even in beehives.

Regeneration consultancy Ingham Pinnock explained how it worked on Camlin Lonsdale’s £40m motte-and-bailey in Towcester, and put green infrastructure ‘at its heart’. GI was implemented first, leaving development ‘ticking away in the background’, said director Ross Ingham.

‘This gave credibility to wider regeneration issues, improved public perception of regeneration and helped galvanise resolve through local authority changes such as elections,’ Ingham said. ‘Developers were impressed that public-sector partners were doing rather than saying.”

Natural England senior advisor Tom Butterworth said this was one of many examples of GI defining attitudes. Torbay identified £1.3m of health benefits coming from trees while landscape architects in Portland, USA, tackled water run-off rather than engineers, leading to big municipal savings.

But LI chief executive Alastair McCapra sounded a note of caution about the complexity of GI: ‘Green infrastructure is such a simple idea but it needs more people to get on board: there are so many people who have to be involved,’ he said.

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