Buckinghamshire is currently facing a period of huge economic growth. Alongside planning for this growth, we need to plan for 'green growth'.
Green growth ensures that communities have access to high quality green spaces and green infrastructure (GI). Buckinghamshire has a rich and varied landscape and GI resource, including:
- River Thames
- Grand Union Canal
- several Royal Hunting Forests such as Bernwood Forest and Whaddon Chase
What is green infrastructure?
Green infrastructure can be described as a network of natural and semi-natural features. These features include:
- individual street trees
- green roofs and private gardens
- rivers and woodlands
- transport corridors
- agricultural land
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".
Examples of green infrastructure
Parks and gardens - including country parks and formal gardens.
Amenity green spaces - play areas, outdoor sports facilities, domestic gardens, village greens, commons, hedges, civic spaces, and highway trees and verges.
Productive green spaces - 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) and 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 - woodlands, meadows, grassland, heathland, open water & brownfield sites
Archaeological and historic sites.
Functional green space - 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.
How green infrastructure helps
The benefits of green infrastructure are:
- 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)
The NEP champions Green Infrastructure in Buckinghamshire. They consist of a diverse range of individuals, businesses and organisations. This includes component local authorities, particularly Buckinghamshire County Council who coordinated 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. They are working with the two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the region. This ensures the growth strategy for the area considers the natural environment. They are also developing 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.
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 and Chesham
- Burnham and Farnham
- Gerrards Cross
- Whaddon Chase
The plan sits alongside the county strategy and includes finer-grain analysis, GI opportunity plans, project schedules and cost plans for the six areas.
The intention is to further support green infrastructure planning and the prioritisation of GI resources.
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.