Greening towns and cities would help tackle recession
3 March 2009
With the next budget fast approaching, CABE and Natural England are calling on government to prioritise funding for green assets such as parks, trees and open spaces.
Shifting public spend into the greening of towns and cities is needed to tackle both climate change and the recession and to create places we all want to live in.
The two government advisors came together in March for ParkCity - a groundbreaking conference that kick-started a debate about how to create more liveable places.
CABE and Natural England argue that since we face two urgent and fundamental challenges – climate change and the recession – investment in grey and green infrastructure needs to be rebalanced.
Spending on grey schemes, like building and expanding roads, is out of kilter with spending on assets like street trees and parks and green spaces.
The two agencies believe that green assets need to become much more central to strategic thinking about economic regeneration, public health and community cohesion, new housing, climate change adaptation and alternative transport and energy solutions.
Richard Simmons, CABE chief executive, said that towns and cities have to be redesigned to respond to the imperative of climate change. Design is the signal of intent - and the intention of urban design should be to reduce, absorb and capture more carbon dioxide. “Greening towns and cities needs to be part of the green new deal, as much as technology” he said.
The two agencies point out that creation and maintenance of green infrastructure will generate new and sustainable jobs in the private sector as well creating desirable areas to live and work, stimulating local business. Investment in green roofs, for instance, would not only protect against flooding by absorbing heavy rain, cool the air in summer, improve air quality and support biodiversity, but it would also create many new jobs.
If just 10 per cent of the national £10 billion budget to widen and build roads was put aside, that could pay for 40 new parks, half a million new street trees, one and a half million square metres of green roofs, and 1,000 miles of safe greenways for cyclists and pedestrians.
The ParkCity conference brought senior practitioners from regional and local government together with planning, green space and urban design professionals from across the world. The line-up of speakers included architect William McDonough, green infrastructure authority Edward T McMahon, South Bronx environmental activist Majora Carter, Copenhagen’s environmental mayor and San Franciso’s director of climate initiatives.
ParkCity also had a strong practical streak, looking at green infrastructure planning and good practice in north America, continental Europe and the UK. Interviews with the main speakers from ParkCity will be available to read on this website soon.
CABE and Urban Practitioners
with the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield