Buckinghamshire is facing a period of unprecedented economic growth with proposed large infrastructure developments. Alongside planning for this growth, we need to plan for ‘green growth’ to ensure that communities have access to high quality green spaces and green infrastructure (GI).
Buckinghamshire has a rich and varied landscape and GI resource, including the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Colne Valley Regional Park and the contrasting open landscape of the Vale of Aylesbury. The county includes important GI links including the River Thames, Grand Union Canal and several Royal Hunting Forests such as Bernwood Forest & Whaddon Chase.
What is green infrastructure?
The National Planning Policy Framework 2012 describes GI as: “a network of green space, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits for local communities”.
This reflects the definition set out in the European Commission’s Strategy for Green Infrastructure (2013), which seeks to promote the development of green infrastructure in urban and rural areas. The strategy defines GI as ‘a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services. It incorporates green spaces (or blue if aquatic ecosystems are concerned) and other physical features in terrestrial (including coastal) and marine areas. On land, GI is present in rural and urban settings’.
Examples of green infrastructure
- Parks and gardens including country parks and formal gardens
- Amenity green spaces such as informal recreation spaces, play areas, outdoor sports facilities, domestic gardens, village greens, commons, hedges, civic spaces, and highway trees and verges.
- Productive green spaces including allotments, city farms, orchards
- Cemeteries and churchyards.
- Green corridors – rivers and canals (including their banks), road verges and rail embankments, cycling routes, and rights of way.
- Sites selected for their substantive nature conservation value – Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Local Sites (Local Wildlife Sites and Local Geological Sites) & Nature Reserves (statutory and non-statutory).
- Green space designations (selected for historic significance, beauty, recreation, wildlife, or tranquillity).
- Natural & semi-natural rural and urban green spaces such as woodlands, meadows, grassland, heathland, open water & brownfield sites
- Archaeological and historic sites.
- Functional green space such as sustainable drainage schemes (SuDS) and flood storage areas
- Built structures – living roofs and walls, bird and bat boxes, and roost sites within existing and new-build developments.
The benefits and functions
- Reducing flood risk and improving air & water quality
- Mitigating the causes and impacts of climate change such as global warming
- Living spaces for communities
- Productive landscapes for growing food
- Recreation, and proven benefits for health and wellbeing
- Provides areas for wildlife to thrive
- Opportunities for enjoyment of culture, heritage and landscape
The Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership (NEP)
Green Infrastructure in Buckinghamshire is championed through the NEP which has brought together, at a county level. A diverse range of individuals, businesses and organisations including component local authorities, particularly Buckinghamshire County Council who co-ordinated the production of the GI Strategy and Delivery Plan. The NEP will promote the value of the natural environment in decision making at all levels. The NEP is working with the two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the region to ensure the natural environment is embedded in the growth strategy for the area and will explore opportunities with both LEP’s to develop interventions for the implementation of the GI Delivery Plan.
Buckinghamshire GI Strategy April 2009
The strategic context and evidence base for GI in the county can be found in the Buckinghamshire GI Strategy. The Strategy highlights the county’s GI resource, where deficits in accessible GI can be found in and priority areas for action/improvement. The Natural Environment Partnership oversees the delivery of the GI Strategy. The document is available to download by chapter below.
Buckinghamshire GI Delivery Plan 2013
The GI Delivery Plan provides a schedule of strategic GI projects for Buckinghamshire and detailed action plans for six key areas in the county (Amersham/Chesham, Aylesbury, Burnham/Farnham, Gerrards Cross, Whaddon Chase & Wycombe). The plan sits alongside the county strategy and includes finer-grain analysis, GI opportunity plans, project schedules and cost plans for the six areas. It is intended to further support green infrastructure planning and the prioritisation of GI resources. Download the report below.
Whaddon Chase Community GI Plan 2011
A pilot community GI plan was undertaken with 7 parish councils in North Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes in 2011 and can be downloaded below.