The Mainstreaming GI Project

Green Infrastructure (GI) has emerged as a multifunctional planning concept with potential to address urban planning challenges as "natural" assets. There is an weighty academic and policy literature in support of this. However, to date GI potential has not been effectively mainstreamed into planning policy, practice and decision-making processes due to a lack of evidence quantifying its claimed multiple benefits; a lack of suitable delivery mechanisms and declining local authority resources due to budgetary cuts.

City Park Green Infrastructure

This has made GI vulnerable in the congested and contested policy arenas where it is often trumped by economic growth and housing priorities. Nevertheless, some progress has been made within ecosystem services and natural capital assessments and NERC's 12 targeted GI projects. However, there is a marked absence of viable delivery mechanisms for urban decision makers. Indeed, many planning decisions/investments rely on conventional cost benefit analysis models which poorly incorporate environmental aspects.

So, drawing upon my own research experience in 3 NERC projects associated with GI and its use in the planning system, I have prioritised 4 critical GI challenges to underpin this project

(1) What constitutes success in the provision and delivery of GI in the planning system?

(2) How can we translate existing NERC science associated with the value and benefits of GI into fit for purpose delivery tools for policy and practice?

(3) How can we evaluate the added value of GI planning policies and interventions?

(4) How can we change/influence behaviour(s) of key actors in the planning arena regarding their valuation and use of GI?

My role as a NERC fellow is to address these challenges by acting as a catalyst integrating multiple planning policy and practice viewpoints across key stakeholders who use/shape the planning system. These participants will co-produce the projects outputs within a managed process that is developmental, pragmatic and peer reviewed; delivering a suite of guidance, tools and resources that help mainstream GI in policy and decision making.

In support of these goals, I have teamed up with the Town and Country Planning Association, a recognized NGO champion and thought leader in GI innovation, policy, research and practice in a 3 year secondment.

My KE workplan is built on 6 workstreams (WS) which provide a coherent framework to address the 4 challenges.

Workstream 1 Key Research on Green Infrastructure: what is the science tellling us? 

Workstream 2 Key Policy and Practice on Green Infrastructure: what are the experiences from policy and practice tellling us?   

Workstream 3 Mind the Gap: where are the key gaps between research and practice in Green Infrastructure?

Workstream 4 Understanding our growing Environmental Vocabulary in England

Workstream 5 What does good Green Infrastructure Policy look like?

Workstream 6 Working with the Green Infrastructure Partnership