How green are our towns and cities?

How green are our towns and cities?

A new research project, just commissioned by Defra as part of the work programme of the Green Infrastructure Partnership, is to look at the current condition of England’s green infrastructure (GI) and consider how to retrofit new green infrastructure in our towns and cities.

It is widely acknowledged that the green infrastructure of towns and cities is the key to improving our health and welfare, protecting against flood risk, improving air quality, providing space for recreation and contributing to increased property values. However, at the moment there is no clear picture about how green our towns and cities really are.

The research will be carried out jointly by the Landscape Institute and the Town and Country Planning Association on behalf of Defra. The results will help inform the work of the Green Infrastructure Partnership, established by government in 2011. It will provide information on the state of knowledge in relation to the key GI issues of reviewing the current condition of GI; the retrofitting of GI into existing urban areas, and information resources and application to the localism agenda.

The research findings are due to be published later this year, and the report will prove vital to local communities when they come to prepare their local plans as it will guarantee access to the current status of green infrastructure in their area.

“Properly designed green infrastructure helps our towns and cities cope with rising temperatures and increased risks of flooding and makes our cities more liveable,” said Alastair McCapra, chief executive of the LI.  “For the first time we are going to have access to research that will enable us to make informed decisions to protect ourselves from increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and make our towns and cities better places to live.”
 
“One in six urban areas report that their green space is declining, but we know that living near good-quality, accessible green space improves our quality of life, and indeed reduces health inequalities,” added Kate Henderson, chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association.  “Local authorities will take over responsibility for public health from the NHS next year, and we want this research to help them plan their public spaces in ways which bring the maximum health benefits to local people.”

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