Urban greening tax breaks mooted

New Society of Garden Designers chair advocates incentives for developers to include planting.

Developers should be given tax breaks for including landscape in building projects for housing, shops and offices, according to the new chairman of the Society of Garden Designers.

Charles Rutherfoord said the UK should follow the example of the USA, where commercial developments receive tax incentives for including art and sculpture. The British are "out of step with other nations" on urban greening, he added.

Rutherfoord, who replaced Annabel Downs in the post last month, said: "Art is well looked after but I would give tax breaks for inclusion of landscape in developments. We need to look abroad at better examples of urban design. Shanghai has rings of green belt not outside but inside the city and planting in even the narrowest streets."

He criticised the recent pedestrianisation of Exhibition Road in Kensington for its lack of planting among swathes of granite paving and stainless-steel street furniture. He said he would meet MPs to raise the profile of landscape, green spaces and planning issues.

"The draft National Planning Policy Framework, which wants to simplify the process, is moving in the wrong direction," said Rutherfoord. "We need better planning, not less planning, while masterplanning can be shocking in its lack of provision of green areas."

Rutherfoord praised Downs' three-year tenure as society chair: "I have been inspired by her clarity of vision and ability to forge new links and build relationships that have been hugely beneficial in raising the profile of the society."

Design champion

The Society of Garden Designers, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, champions excellence in garden design. It will hold its spring conference on planting design in London on 28 April.

Society members include Tom Stuart-Smith, Robert Myers and Luciano Giubbilei and this year it is launching its first Garden Design Awards.

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