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Annie Coombs

As the concept of green infrastructure has become more widely understood, so has an appetite for communities to have their say in what happens to green infrastructure. The author draws on over 35 years of experience on green infrastructure projects to illustrate the points with a range of short project profiles, referenced for further reading. The benefits of community involvement are described. The emergence of community involvement, patterns of how it occurs in theory and in practice and its drivers are explored. The challenges of defining ‘a community’ and ensuring they can feel they have made a difference are illustrated. From the examples, the most important attributes for community involvement in green infrastructure identified are vision, leadership, partnership working, excellent communication, creativity in engagement, maximising opportunities for training and education, and the provision of technical support.

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Michael Short

Conservation planning attempts to regulate the rate and direction of physical change in historic environments through a framework of policies and controls that not only protect it from inappropriate change, but seeks its enhancement. This chapter focuses on how one element of the historic environment – green infrastructure – is crucial to defining the character of place which is then protected through this regulatory framework. Using the example of Vancouver, the chapter outlines how a robust conservation planning system has evolved which recognises the role of the natural environment in the city’s unique planning system. It explores the relationship between a well-defined narrative of green infrastructure protection and enhancement, with a proposal for a tall building – the Shangri-La tower – that was assessed utilising the city’s regulatory framework. The outcome has provided much needed development in a way that recognises and augments the character of the city.

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Nick Smith

Green infrastructure is a concept that continues to evolve, with local factors often being significant in terms of defining the lines of policy and action pursued. This chapter explores this point by focusing on the strategic measures that are being taken by authorities in Cambridge (UK) and Cambridge in the USA (in the state of Massachusetts). In addition to exploring the key agendas being followed, and where these appear in a document and statutory planning sense, the chapter also explores the mechanisms, and the type of outcomes, that can be practised and achieved through strategic development. The chapter does this by exploring two different schemes – a greenfield urban extension (Cambridge, UK) and a large previously developed site (Cambridge, USA).

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Clara Greed

This chapter focuses on the importance of taking a strategic policy approach towards planning green infrastructure in the UK, which is based upon social user needs, rather than upon just a physical land use perspective. The different categories of green infrastructure are summarised and cross-referenced to the types of people likely to use them and the sorts of active and passive recreational activities undertaken. For green spaces to be usable and appropriate to user needs, first it is important to consider how they link to surrounding residential areas, socially in terms of the demographic requirements, and spatially in terms of connecting route ways. Second, the internal layout and design is discussed. Third, the range of facilities and amenities needed to enable visitors to create accessible, comfortable and safe green spaces are considered. Management factors are raised which will ensure that city-wide strategic policy objectives related to equality, diversity and accessibility are fulfilled. The principles of the RTPI Gender Mainstreaming Toolkit are presented for application to green space policy-making. If green spaces are not planned to be welcoming places with the needs of all users in mind they will soon become underused and subject to vandalism, crime and antisocial behaviour, thus reducing the chances of achieving strategic green infrastructure policy contributing towards improved health, education and sustainability. Sociological awareness must be integral to green space policy-making.

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Andy J. Moffat, Danielle Sinnett, Nick Smith and Sarah Burgess

From its origins in nineteenth-century parks green, infrastructure has been an ever-evolving component of cities. This chapter makes some observations based on a number of key trends in society and emerging patterns of green infrastructure provision to make some suggestions for the future. It looks at how our cities and their citizens are changing and the response required if green infrastructure, in terms of its form and function, is to remain relevant. In addition to our cities shaping green infrastructure, it in turn has a fundamental role to play in future-proofing our cities from challenges, such as climate change, and threats to natural ecosystems and their services on which our health and well-being depend. The management of green infrastructure is also likely to evolve the future, particularly in times of austerity, and require ever greater degrees of collaboration between professions and sectors. However, the future, it is argued, also holds new opportunities for green infrastructure, for example, in terms of new technologies to improve is delivery, streamline its management and monitoring, and facilitate community involvement. What is clear is that green infrastructure will need to be a flexible and dynamic resource that is capable of adapting to cities of the future.

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Nicole Collomb

Good governance and management ensures the many public benefits of green infrastructure are maximised. Historically most publicly accessible parks and green spaces have been publicly owned and managed for the public good. More recently, pressure on public finances and greater community involvement in public services has led to increased private and community sector involvement in public green space governance. This chapter outlines three broad models of governance, with varying degrees of public sector involvement highlighting key issues, advantages and disadvantages of each and some successful examples. It considers how stakeholders can work in partnership to manage public green spaces and how governance can operate at different scales across an area from site based to state wide. The chapter then reviews three key aspects of governance; funding, skills and management approaches, focusing on the impact of current resource challenges and considering future trends, concluding with a summary of the findings.

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Alessandro Rigolon, Victoria Derr and Louise Chawla

A growing body of research shows that in diverse societies and cultures, daily contact with nature is an important element of people’s health and well-being. However, because parks are not equitably distributed throughout cities, some urban residents do not have access to these resources and related benefits. Given limited budgets for park acquisition and maintenance, many cities wonder how to provide more equitable access to nature for all citizens. One approach is to naturalise school grounds and open them to surrounding communities after school hours. This chapter explores how green school grounds can be conceived and used as neighbourhood parks, how city parks can serve as outdoor classrooms, and how these spaces can be designed to serve intergenerational needs through participatory processes with schoolchildren and older residents. To illustrate these ideas, we present a case study of participatory design in Boulder, Colorado (USA). Drawing on interviews with key agents in this process, we share lessons and recommendations that might be applied to other places where local governments or schools seek to increase community access to green spaces.

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Danielle Sinnett

Globally urbanisation is posing a significant threat to biodiversity. Yet, human health and well-being depend on ecosystem services, which in turn are largely dependent on biodiversity. Despite a range of initiatives and mechanisms to promote nature conservation in cities it is declining. This chapter provides a summary of features in cities that are associated with greater abundance and richness of a number of species often studied in urban environments: birds, butterflies, pollinators and plants. The most common features identified include proximity to natural habitats, habitat heterogeneity, presence of native species, patch size and management practices. This is followed by some suggestions of how green infrastructure could be planned and designed to increase biodiversity. The chapter then finishes with some challenges and opportunities for green infrastructure and nature conservation.

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Eva Silveirinha de Oliveira and Catharine Ward Thompson

There has been a growing recognition that green infrastructure can have benefits for public health. This chapter traces evidence of the influence of green infrastructure on people’s health, from the mid-nineteenth century to the most recent studies. By examining two iconic green infrastructures – Boston’s Emerald Necklace and Buffalo Park system – it reviews Frederick Olmsted’s strategic vision which acknowledged the importance of green infrastructures in contributing to an improvement in public health. Through the review of the evidence available on the importance of green infrastructure in health, the chapter summarises the types of benefits (physical activity, restorative effect, social cohesion, air quality enhancement) and reflects on how the evidence relating to the importance of green spaces and contact with nature can be translated into the planning and design of green infrastructures. Finally, the Greenlink project is presented as a case study of best practice, illustrating how green infrastructure can promote health and wellbeing in local communities.

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Andy J. Moffat

Green infrastructure has become an integral component of land regeneration in many parts of the world. Introducing greenspace into urban design can offer a range of goods and services which are increasingly regarded as essential for modern living. In addition to traditional goods and services, vegetation on brownfield land can stabilise unstable and potentially polluting substrates and demonstrate the sense of regeneration purpose. The technical challenges associated with revegetating brownfield land are now comparatively well understood and worldwide there are many examples of very good practice. However, the ‘greening’ process is complex and the results are often only partially successful. Choice of appropriate vegetation must reflect the substrate and landform on offer – the use of non-native vegetation should be considered alongside native forms. It is important to understand both the dynamic nature of ecosystems and the changing needs for vegetation as regeneration proceeds. Increasingly, the spatial context of greenspace, its connectivity and relationship with buildings and watercourses need to be considered. The human and economic dimensions of greenspace on brownfield land must also be understood in order to establish forms which are sustainable into the future.