The Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership (GLNP) was established in 2013 and the production of a green infrastructure (GI) strategy for the county was quickly established as one of its priorities. In early 2014 a group of local authority officers and Natural England met to discuss how this issue could be progressed and a draft strategic green infrastructure framework was produced.
With the agreement of the Members of the GLNP Board the draft framework was the subject of consultation with the wider partnership and other interested parties, including neighbouring LNPs and local authorities. Comments were received and incorporated into the framework, where appropriate. Formal public consultation has not been undertaken, but the framework will be tested as part of the local plan process. The Framework was formally approved by the LNP Board on 8th April 2015.
In October 2018 The Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership brought together over 80 representatives from a range of sectors to unpick the obstacles that still prevent the delivery of green infrastructure features when designing and implementing new places to live and work.
As a result of the symposium, GLNP created and promoted a Green Infrastructure Pledge in 2019, which most partners of the GLNP signed up to (see below) This Pledge is a promise to commit to making Gloucestershire a pioneer of green infrastructure, creating a better, more attractive place to live, work and visit, as well as becoming an exemplar for the rest of the country.
Action has fallen short of words, however. Whilst recognising some of the great work that many organistions have done in this field, we still do not see every new development meeting Building with Nature Standards, despite its inclusion in most of the Local Plans.
A county-wide Green Infrastructure Strategy is not forthcoming, but GLNP has worked hard to update and refine the Strategic Framework for Green Infrastructure. Many Districts are creating their own Green Infrastructure plans and strategies, all of which will have regard to, and be guided by, the principles contained within this framework.
The Pledge highlights that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. As signatories, they have agreed to promote, create and enhance green infrastructure in Gloucestershire for the benefit of all, working in cross-sector partnership wherever possible to deliver the following actions:
01: We will commit to working in favour of sustainable development, delivering against the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (July 2018) where it states development and policies should make sufficient provision for “conservation and enhancement of the natural, built and historic environment, including landscapes and green infrastructure, and planning measures to address climate change mitigation and adaptation.” [para. 20].
02: We will aim to utilise appropriate, high-quality green infrastructure, wherever possible, to protect lives, communities, wildlife and economic growth from the likely effects of development and climate change – including flooding and pollution – through such methods as natural flood management systems, street trees and sustainable drainage systems.
03: We commit to delivering healthy, inclusive and safe places as required in chapter 8 of the revised NPPF, acknowledging the importance of green and blue spaces as essential components to health and happiness of our communities. We seek to utilise tools that help us identify what ‘good’ green infrastructure looks like and ensure sufficient thought is put into providing relevant, high-quality, safe and accessible green space for people that encourages active lifestyles, social inclusion and community engagement with nature.
04: We will take a strategic approach to maintaining and enhancing networks of habitats and green infrastructure, minimising impacts on the natural environment, whilst providing net gains for biodiversity and enhancing natural capital on a landscape scale – as outlined within the revised NPPF [para. 170/171]. In doing so we will also contribute to the ‘Nature Recovery Network’ outlined within the 25 Year Environment Plan, utilising green infrastructure to link habitats for the recovery of our wildlife and the wider range of public benefits this network will provide.
05: We will seek to apply high quality green infrastructure principles to the retrofit of buildings as well as to new developments. We understand that green infrastructure can help build a strong, competitive economy whilst positively impacting lives through regeneration initiatives. Green infrastructure can make properties more sustainable, increase housing value, boost climate resilience, promote social inclusion, and improve desirability of local areas.