Green Belts: more than lines on a map

Natural England and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have published Green Belts: a Greener Future. The first major survey of the environmental state of Green Belt land and the benefits it provides for people and wildlife.

Helen Phillips, Natural England’s Chief Executive, said: “By containing urban sprawl, the Green Belt has been a great success story of post-war planning. We need to look at ways in which it can expand on its success to date and play a full role in supporting England’s wider network of protected areas and open spaces. The Green Belt is an important environmental resource that, managed effectively, can help tackle climate change, support wildlife and provide health and leisure opportunities for millions to enjoy.”

Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive of CPRE, said: “This report confirms that the countryside around our largest and most historic towns and cities is a vital, but fragile, environmental asset. We must continue to strengthen our Green Belts and make full use of the opportunities they provide to allow people to appreciate their local countryside. Where Green Belt land is underused, or in poor condition, the answer is to improve its quality, not to build on it.”

30 million people live in or next to Green Belts which cover 13% of the land surface of England.

Download website for  Summary and Full Report of Green Belts: a Greener Future

[SOURCE: Natural England]

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Scotland releases simplified Planning Policy

The Scottish Government recently launched a simplified planning document which replaces 17 separate planning policies. The new document sets out planning policy on topics such as housing, wind farms, flooding and the natural and built environment.

Also published today is a circular updating guidance on the criteria and processes when developers are required to make a contribution to the provision of local infrastructure, where a development would create additional infrastructure demands.

Go here to download the new planning policy (PDF)

Go here to download the circular (PDF)

[SOURCE: Scottish Government]

Private vs Public Money for Parks

New York Times recently published When Parks Must Rely on Private Money by DIANE CARDWELL concerning the struggles of cities to fund the construction and maintenance of parks throughout the USA. Many parks are funded through selling of land or revenues generated by carparks or taxes from new nearby developments and others are funded by residents and companies donating funds in return for naming rights or plaques. Cardwell cites examples of parks that have been constructed with the use some private funding including Millennium Park in Chicago and the Highline and with the tradeoff causing issues in some cities.

The article stimulated a few ideas I have had during my career. I find that funding of new or redevelopment of parks is a often a fine line between private and public funding, which often blurs the line between public and private space. Private funding often causing issues with residents because of naming or commercial activities in the new park that create a private area.

An ever-growing trend for cities around the world is to justify the cost of construction and maintenance of parks through inclusion of private funding or commercial activities such as paid parking garages, retail shops, restaurants, or areas that are commercialised for entertainment(concerts, festivals, etc). How to strike a balance between private and public funding is very complicated process for each city and requires research and consultation.

Many cities find it hard to redevelop parks with the use of public money as it is often controversial as parks are sometimes seen by residents as non-essential. Residents see hospitals, schools, and police as essential services within the community whereas parks are seen as non-essential and that public monies would be better spent on other services. To avoid this cities seek private funding in return for naming rights or a commercial development on or near the  park. Now the question is how far to go with private funding and how much is the park compromised by accepting the funding in return for naming right or commercial development?

This issue of public and private funding will become more and more prevalent around the world as developers of retail and residential developments blur the line between public and private space by creating spaces in developments that are town squares and parks that can be accessed by the public. This blurring will cause some confusion with city residents as to what is public space and what is private. It also raises the question – Are developers going to develop parks and maintain them or will it always remain the domain of the local government?

Private development of public parks as apart of residential developments or commercial developments, which are then handed to government after certain period is already occurring in some parts of the world. Will this become a growing trend across cities for small and large parks? Or will it remain only in residential developments?

By Damian Holmes

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U.S. Green Building Council Approves Sustainability Studies Courses Offered by UC Berkeley Extension

UC Berkeley Extension recently announced its new designation as a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Education Provider. USGBC sets the standards for the green building industry in the United States and abroad through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System certification program. UC Berkeley Extension is the first continuing education program at the University of California, and one of the few public continuing education programs in the country, to offer USGBC-approved course credits.

With the Obama administration’s budget proposal this week for $2.4 billion in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs—and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ prediction of a 30 percent growth over the next decade in top green jobs such as mechanical engineer, environmental engineer, environmental educator, and landscape architect—the demand is growing among professionals for more green industry education.

The UC Berkeley Extension sustainability courses approved by USGBC are designed to meet that growing demand. They include advanced courses in solar, sustainable construction, renewable energy, transportation, clean technology, and sustainability leadership and management. All USGBC-approved courses are rigorously peer-reviewed and approved for credit toward LEED Professional Credentialing Maintenance.

UC Berkeley Extension’s Sustainability Studies program includes more than 60 courses for professionals in emerging green industries. The program emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to sustainability in a broad range of important areas including green building design and construction, LEED, solar and renewable energy, climate change and land use planning, and clean technologies. This spring, UC Berkeley Extension offers several new sustainability studies courses, as well as two new specialized programs of study: Leadership in Sustainability and Environmental Management and Solar Energy and Green Building.

[SOURCE: PRnewswire]

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Designer to use a shipping container & dumpsters for exhibition garden

Voxy.co.nz reports

Industrial-sized dumpsters, mini skips, a shipping container and exotic aquatic weeds are the four key elements in the exhibition garden being designed by Christchurch-based international designer Craig Pocock for this year’s Ellerslie International Flower Show.

“As landscape architects, we should be aiming to create landscapes with longevity that will survive changing demographics, community growth and fashion trends. Our landscapes need to be timeless designs that serve a community well for decades to make the most of the embodied energy costs that comes with creating and maintaining a landscape, especially our urban spaces”.

Read the full article at the [SOURCE: Voxy.co.nz - Water Oasis In An Industrial Setting]

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