Sue Illman calls for joined-up thinking

Investing in green space is essential for urban improvement, says Landscape Institute president.

Landscape Institute president Sue Illman has called for "joined-up thinking" on landscape investment amid rising urban living.

She packed an entire philosophy into a passionate six-minute speech at a forum of top industry professionals, covering issues from climate change to mental health.

Illman was one of five speakers at the event on 24 April hosted by landscape and building architect Patel Taylor in association with the Landscape Institute.

She said: "Investing in our urban green space is not an option but a must if we are to continue to intensify our towns and cities and make them better, healthier, more beautiful but above all sustainable places to live."

Illman outlined numerous environmental challenges - rising sea levels, coastal erosion, flooding, limited water supply, water and air pollution, temperature extremes, climate change, food production and energy supply - saying landscape professionals can address these with "design-led concepts".

She added: "This must be a fundamental part of what we do and this investment will become increasingly easy to justify." Illman called for "joined-up thinking for policy from national Government down to the local level".

She said green solutions are increasingly cheaper than "grey technical solutions" and criticised public-sector spending cuts, saying long-term funding must be "clear and secure".

Other speakers shared examples of inspiring urban landscape projects, including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London and Patel Taylor's own Eastside City Park in Birmingham.

Beyond Green executive chairman Jonathan Smales said: "We have to invest in landscape because landscape invests in us." Newham Council regeneration executive director Clive Dutton urged practitioners to think big: "There's no point dabbling around - you need to do something extraordinary."

Event speakers

Mark Davy, Futurecity.

Clive Dutton, executive director for regeneration and inward investment, Newham Council.

Sue Illman, president, Landscape Institute.

Jonathan Smales, executive chairman, Beyond Green.

Andrew Taylor, director, Patel Taylor.

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