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Covid-19 lockdown period highlights importance of green space in housing developments

The current social distancing measures highlight the critical importance of incorporating quality green spaces within housing developments, said ecology consultancy Ecological Planning & Research Ltd (EPR).

The lockdown period has been arguably far harder to cope with mentally for people with limited access to green space.

Ben Kite, managing director of EPR, said: “The limitations imposed by Covid-19 lockdown have brought to the forefront the need to be clever about improving access and creating pockets of greenspace to protect our wellbeing, and that of the wildlife we are welcoming back to our streets, parks, and gardens.

“Revising Local Plans to place greater emphasis on the provision of green and blue infrastructure, sustainable travel, and high-quality open spaces will not be easy – particularly in built-up high density areas where there is a real need to create green space – but this is no reason not to try.”

He added: “Allocations for new residential development should be seen not as being in competition with the need for green open space provision, but as an opportunity for such provision to be delivered.

“The wheels have already been set in motion for the creation and improvement of green space in England with the biodiversity net gain requirements set out in the emerging Environment Bill.

“The Bill will mandate for residential, commercial, and infrastructure developers to demonstrate that biodiversity has been enhanced through all new projects – but I believe that we can do more to build more resilient, greener communities by bringing green space to the top of the agenda in every new Local Plan.”

To support housebuilders in building quality biodiversity enhancements into their projects, EPR has published ‘Building Biodiversity Net Gain into Housing’.

The report, first in a series addressing Biodiversity Net Gain requirements across all aspects of development in England, outlines the strategic approach developers can take to increase biodiversity both on and off site, improving spaces for both wildlife and people whilst increasing the value of the country’s housing stock.