Problem Addressed

Green infrastructure is a planned network of green spaces designed to provide a range of environmental and social benefits. Implementing Green Infrastructure can be challenging, however, without a clear set of standards and policies defining best practices and guiding design from the earliest stages. A report commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council found that for each £1 invested in Green Infrastructure, communities receive £4 worth of benefits.

Solution Overview

Building with Nature (BwN)’s mission is to make high quality green infrastructure integral to placemaking in the UK, maximising benefits for both people and the natural world. The BwN Standards define what good green infrastructure looks like at each stage of the development process. This framework contains 12 individual standards built around the themes of Core, Wellbeing, Water, and Wildlife. The framework itself is also easy-to-use and is free to download. A Building with Nature approach is one that through the provision of good green infrastructure:

  • Optimises multifunctionality and connectivity
  • Positively responds to the climate emergency and maximises environmental net gains
  • Champions a context driven approach and creates distinctive places
  • Supports equitable and inclusive places and secures effective place-keeping
  • Brings nature and water closer to people
  • Delivers climate resilient water management
  • Delivers wildlife enhancements and underpins nature’s recovery

Planning authorities use the standards to develop and test new planning policy with planners benefitting from a clear picture of what good looks like, a shared framework of principles, and the ability to draw on supporting specialist knowledge they may not have in-house. Professional experts – ecologists, landscape architects, and planning consultants – use the standards to engage with clients and improve physical development of green infrastructure. Many go through training to become Approved Assessors, so they can help their schemes achieve BwN certification. The Standards were developed to support cross-disciplinary decision making and inform better design and delivery of green infrastructure.

Effectiveness of the solution is determined through the assessment and third-party audit of development proposals and/or policy documents. Applicants and their projects/policy that meet the Standards are granted, by way of a certificate, a BwN Nature Award with all awarded projects/policies listed on the Building with Nature website.

The cost of appointing a BwN Approved Assessor will vary depending on the appointment and project scope. The accreditation cost also varies from £1,300 to £8,000 + VAT and depends on the size of the development. The accreditation cost for a policy document is currently £2,625 + VAT.

Case Study

Oakfield, Swindon is a scheme providing 239 intergenerational homes for a wide variety of tenures focused around communal gardens. A BwN Assessor guided the design proposals from an early stage, with the final masterplan being given a BwN Design Award for meeting the Building with Nature Standards and delivering high-quality green infrastructure. The project includes a range of features that incorporate all the Building with Nature themes including native plantings and trees, new and improved cycle links and footpath networks, SuDs, homestead gardens, and integrated bat and bird boxes to name a few.

Facts and Figures

£1,300-8,000 + VAT
£2,625 + VAT

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