The TCPA has been the Lead Partner for the PERFECT project since it commenced in January 2017. During this time, the project has developed a large knowledge base about solutions to creating greener cities from across Europe.
The TCPA’s role was extended at the end of 2018 to enable it to use this learning to influence English planning policy to strengthen the delivery of green infrastructure – and the timing couldn’t be better, as Julia Thrift from the TCPA explains in this article.
The UK government’s 25-year environment plan (25YEP), ‘A green future’ , was published in 2018 and has resulted a wide range of environmental policy development initiatives. There will be many opportunities to influence the policy making process using good practice learned from other EU countries about the role that green infrastructure can play in towns and cities to boost jobs and growth.
The 25YEP was published by government as a result of the work of the Natural Capital Committee . This independent committee was set up to advise the government on how we could be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it. The committee made strong, evidence-based arguments that the economy was dependent on the environment, and that increasing and enhancing ‘natural capital’ assets such as green infrastructure was not only desirable, but essential for England’s future success.
Until now, policy for planning green infrastructure in England has focused on providing a certain quantity of green space, at a specified distance from where people live. This ‘quantity x distance’ equation now looks far too simplistic. ‘Green space’ is not the same as ‘green infrastructure’. And ‘quality’ is just as important as ‘quantity’. However, it is impossible to specify the quality of green infrastructure in a policy or a development without a robust way of measuring it.
Consequently, following the publication of the 25 YEP, government has started working on a project to create a ‘green infrastructure standards framework’, which will help planners, developers and others have meaningful and specific conversations about what quality of green infrastructure should be developed through the planning process. This aim is for this standards framework to be embedded in to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The PERFECT project will work to influence the development of the standards framework in the NPPF to maximise the benefits of green infrastructure for jobs and growth, using good practice from the other partners in the PERFECT project. The standards framework is due to be published in early 2020.
Julia Thrift, Projects and Operations Director, TCPA
- ‘A green future: Our 25 year plan to improve the environment’ (gov.uk/government/publications/25-year-environment-plan )
- Natural Capital Committee (gov.uk/government/groups/natural-capital-committee)