The opening of the High Line at City Hall was a chance for the London Government to re-affirm its commitment to green infrastructure

Matthew Pencharz, environmental and political adviser to the Mayor of London, spoke at the event
Matthew Pencharz, environmental and political adviser to the Mayor of London, spoke at the event

A reception at City Hall for the move there of the Landscape Institute’s High Line for London competition was not just an opportunity to showcase the best of green infrastructure but to confirm commitment to its importance.

Matthew Pencharz, environmental and political adviser to the Mayor of London, opened the event by saying, ‘These ideas have really sparked thoughts about how green our cities are.’ He compared the abundant green spaces of London with Beirut which he had recently visited and which seemed, he said, to have only one green space. And he reiterated the commitment of the Greater London Authority to plant 10,000 street trees.

Pencharz added that ‘the mayor is always receptive to real out of the box ideas’.

Sue Illman, president of the Landscape Institute, said, ‘The High Line competition has been a wonderful success, beyond all of our expectations, and most importantly through making GI a mainstream issue.  Having been picked up by the national press it has generated widespread interest about what’s possible in cities – what other way would we be having public debates about growing mushrooms in tunnels, swimming along the Regents Canal or cycling over our railways?

‘The LI has long been committed to promoting GI, and through these projects in particular, making the case for GI in London, as they have provided a great place to start.  And a key part of that process is the important role of the landscape profession, working alongside architects, engineers and urban designers in delivering green infrastructure – working with all of you, representing those that need to engage in this process, being such a diverse and wide-ranging audience here tonight.

‘So our mantra is “Let’s work together, more collaboratively, and more often” to maximise the benefits for our cities.’

Johanna Gibbons of J & L Gibbons, who was involved with the creation of the All London Green Grid, said, ‘I get excited by what green infrastructure means, but it can seem rather dull, heavy and elusive. This competition has lifted the lid to a wider audience. Let’s not lose that momentum.’

Christopher Woodward, director of the Garden Museum, which ran the High Line weekend at which the exhibtion was launched and the entries judged, said, ‘This competition inspired by the High Line demonstrate, first, the desire for change – the sense that the balance is not right in how we live, move around and access nature – and second, the energy and imagination that exist.’ He added, ‘There is a profound desire to change the balance between the gray and the green.’


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