Public realm in the spotlight

Professionals working in all areas of the landscape sector should rightly feel buoyed by the national policy attention the public realm has received in recent days - with the promise of more to come.

Earlier this week Sir Terry Farrell, in his Government-commissioned review of architecture and the built environment, placed landscape at the very heart of future planning, calling for a new understanding of "PLACE", bringing planning, landscape, architecture, conservation and engineering professionals together in a joined-up approach. The significance of his report, which recognises how public realm has suffered under the planning system and calls for appropriate landscape funding from developers, should not be underestimated.

In this issue, head of design for the Battersea Power Station Development Company David Twohig echoes the message when he tells us parks, green space, roof gardens and the public realm are critical to place-making (see p6). That the Farrell Review should be published in the week that experts from around the world gathered at the AIPH International Green City Conference to debate the way ahead for more sustainable urban landscapes can only add to the message.

There was welcome news from the event too in the form of the announcement that the Town & Country Planning Association will be taking on the work of the Green Infrastructure Partnership following Defra's withdrawal.

With Government proposals for the first modern garden city on the horizon and the new parklands in the south of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park poised to open following completion of final transformation works, we can only hope that for once politicians' minds will be focused long enough on the critical importance of quality public realm to make it the priority Farrell has demanded.

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