Should Green Space be a Priority in Local Plans?

The social distancing measures implemented to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has highlighted the importance of high-quality green space within housing developments. For some people,  their experience of lockdown has been negatively affected by a lack of access to green open spaces. But how can we learn from this to improve future developments?

Research conducted in 2019 by Newcastle University, the University of Warwick and the University of Sheffield, uses new geospatial research techniques to create an accurate measure of the relationship between three difference aspects of mental wellbeing and green space. It found that living within 300m of urban green space is associated with a greater sense of worth, life satisfaction and happiness. This has been amplified by the social distancing measures implemented to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), where time outdoors has been limited. For many, getting an adequate amount of quality time outdoors has not been possible.

Alongside this, the research found that here is a “very strong” relationship between the feelings of life satisfaction, happiness and self-worth and the amount of green space around a person’s home. Quantitatively, an increase of one hectare within 300m of residents was associated with an increase of 5 percentage points in happiness, 7 in worth and 8 in life satisfaction.

As well as the increase in happiness and life satisfaction, increasing the amount of green spaces in urbanised areas can greatly improve the natural biodiversity. Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, all have important parts to play. By introducing more green spaces, we have the opportunity for wild flowers and fauna to bring native species into the ecosystem.

One way that we can help provide accessible green space in the future is to revise local plans. By placing a greater emphasis on sustainable travel, high-quality open spaces and green infrastructure – particularly in high density areas – we can help ensure that future developments provide the necessary amount of green space to give an increased feeling of happiness, self-worth and feelings of life satisfaction.

Progress has already been set in motion for the improvement and creation of green space in England, with the biodiversity net gain requirements set out in the emerging environment bill. The bill will mandate for commercial, residential and infrastructure developers to demonstrate that biodiversity has been enhanced through all new projects. However, there is the possibility to do more to build resilient, greener communities by bringing green space to the top of the planning agenda.

How can Ethical Partnership help?

At Ethical Partnership, our business is focused around our values. In everything that we do, we seek to protect and conserve the natural environment and finite resources of the planet and reflect this in the way we advise our clients, design schemes and select our partners.  

We offer a comprehensive range of ecology and landscape services to both public and private sector clients to enable them to design developments and other schemes that are sensitive to the needs of wildlife, landscape and habitats. We help our clients protect and conserve local and global environmental resources, have been successful in securing standard and bespoke environmental permits and have an excellent working relationship with the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency

With such as vast range of experience, no planning consultancy is better suited to tackle environmental issues as we are. Contact us so we can work out how to best help you achieve your planning goals, protect the environment for future generations, and ensure that more people have access to life-changing green spaces.

You can also contact us using this form for any further questions or enquiries about our work:

* indicates required field