Green infrastructure factor – a tool for landscape planning

The Green infrastructure factor is a tool to ensure landscape is properly considered in planning urban development. The Greater London Authority (GLA) is considering incorporating the factor into the new London Plan. Last year GIC worked on a report for the GLA with TEC and Temple Group. Although the green space factor (GSF) maybe a more familiar term,  the green infrastructure factor term is being used to highlight the multi-functional benefits of landscapes in cities.

Green Infrastructure Factors Around the World

Berlin developed the concept (the biotope factor) during the 1990’s. The city’s concerns with surface flooding and  lack of green space drove the idea. The factor aimed to ensure better green space in developments.

Over the last twenty years, other cities have adopted the approach.  In Europe, Malmo and Stockholm have made use of the tool, on specific development projects. At a city scale both Seattle and Washington DC in the US are now using the tool. Currently, only Southampton has used the tool for a specific development area.,

Our experience of these approaches significantly informed our work for the GLA. We had some involvement with the City of Stockholm. Furthermore, we visited Seattle and observed how the factor worked in action.

Green Infrastructure Factor – Ensuring Functional Green Space in Cities

The various factors are a tool for planners and landscape architects.  The tool evaluates the quantity, and to a certain the extent the quality, of green space functionality. The scoring system  allows for a total value to be assigned to a development. Authorities set a minimum score. Where this minimum score is not met, plans are revisited and altered.  This ensures that adequate green infrastructure is provided in new developments.

Green Infrastructure Factor – Complements Other Planning and Design Tools

GSFs are a tool for planners. The tools do not measure biodiversity loss or gains. Furthermore, they do not replace BREEAM or other environmental performance measurement schemes. In London, it is envisaged that GSFs will be used to ensure that there is adequate green infrastructure. This will be especially important in densely developed areas, regeneration projects or special development zones. Planning authorities will be able to adjust the scheme to suit local conditions and priorities.

GIC was pleased to work on this project. Having seen the success of the approach in other cities, we believe this will help increase the use of GI in London. And we are sure the concept will spread across the UK. If, and when it is adopted, GIC are keen to work with others to make the tool work.

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