Agency demands wildlife-rich green spaces are placed at the heart of all new housing developments

Natural England has responded to the government’s announcement of 20 new housing growth points around the UK with a list of green requirements against which all new developments should be measured.

The natural environment agency wants wildlife-rich green spaces to be placed at the heart of all new development generated in the drive to build 75,000 new homes at the new growth points designated by the Department for Communities and Local Government last week.

Dr Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England, said: “All new developments must pass a simple green test. Developers would never contemplate leaving out grey infrastructure, such as sewers and mains water from developments, so why should it be acceptable to leave out green infrastructure when it’s proven to improve people’s health and quality of life?"

Natural England wants all new developments to provide a green infrastructure that meets a list of five key requirements:

0. Green space within 300m of every home

0. Support for biodiversity through provision of wildlife habitats

0. Parks, wild areas and open spaces to meet the needs of nature and people

0. Ability to cope with the effects of climate change and extreme weather

0. Design that fits into the landscape setting.

Phillips added: “Green infrastructure can help reduce flooding, moderate temperature extremes in the face of climate change, and provide places for wildlife to flourish and people to enjoy. We expect the detailed plans for the new growth points to pass our green tests. We will be looking for developments that improve the local environment – for people and for nature.”

Since 2006 Natural England has supported partnerships to deliver 72 green infrastructure projects in growth areas and has provided direct funding to 10 site-based projects and advised 33 partners on site preparation and management.