The official Government method of measuring deprivation in local areas across England should be amended so that it takes into account the amount and quality of green space, a meeting of the fledgling Green Infrastructure Partnership (GIP) was told this week.
Mersey Forest green infrastructure planning officer Susannah Gill said the Index of Multiple Deprivation, which currently uses seven factors - income; employment; health and disability; education, skills and training; housing and services; crime; and living environment - should be "extended to include green space".
Gill was speaking at a GIP event staged to discuss the results of research carried out by the Landscape Institute and Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA) into the state of knowledge about green infrastructure.
She said the study had found that mapping of green space varied at a regional and sub-regional level, and the health system could do more to promote contact with the natural environment.
There was little evidence of mapping with a view to determining where green infrastructure is needed to help combat climate change, Gill added.
TCPA chief executive Kate Henderson told the meeting that the recent National Planning Policy Framework provided an opportunity for neighbourhood forums to prioritise green infrastructure. She highlighted section 11, which says the planning system should "contribute to the natural and local environment by protecting and enhancing valued landscapes".
The partnership has secured funding for further research including a study of green infrastructure as a catalyst for economic growth.
Green partners - Natural environment focus
The Green Infrastructure Partnership was set up by the Government last year as part of its natural environment white paper.
It now has around 150 partners including landscape architects, developers, planning professionals and councils.
The partnership is coordinated by Defra, which commissioned the Landscape Institute/Town & Country Planning Association research.