Green space policy misses management

Government proposals on planning healthy natural environments have failed at the first draft, according to landscape chiefs, who have rounded on the blueprint.

The Landscape Institute picked apart the draft planning policy statement (PPS) on a point-by-point basis, criticising the consultation paper on issues of upkeep, management and strategy.

Policy and public affairs officer Stephen Russell spoke on last week's deadline day for responses to the draft PPS, Planning for a Natural and Healthy Environment.

The biggest of a "number of serious shortcomings" was the failure to make it law for councils to draw up formal green infrastructure strategies based on local needs. "This is absolutely crucial," said Russell. "Green infrastructure is not sufficiently distinguished from open spaces in the proposed PPS."

It was so multifunctional - embracing street trees, streams, parks and green roofs - that a "coherent, mandatory" strategy based on local needs was important, he added. "Green infrastructure needs the same priority as more conventional infrastructure, given its critical role in addressing environmental, social and economic challenges."

The draft PPS, launched by Communities & Local Government three months ago, aimed to streamline and strengthen policy on landscape protection.

Other shortcomings identified by the institute were the PPS's failure to address upkeep and management of landscapes or to look at water's role in green infrastructure.

CABE senior policy adviser Rachel Fisher said there was too much emphasis on conservation, which could be seen as a block on good development and place making. She suggested that renaming the PPS Planning for Landscape, Biodiversity and Open Spaces would reflect a "more holistic spatial-planning approach that recognises benefits that open spaces".

Landscape Institute president Neil Williamson said: "The new Government has a chance to make good the shortcomings in this draft PPS inherited from the last administration. We urge it to give effect to its commitment to promote green spaces." for more design news.

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