Delighted to have been invited to give a presentation at the last day of the High Line Symposium at the Garden Museum in London, we were also pleased to have the opportunity to attend the event as it was a day of extremely interesting and thought provoking discussions regarding investing in Green Infrastructure (GI). This event took the discussion further than usual, by inviting speakers from a range of backgrounds the Landscape Institute ensured that the GI debate touched most aspects of the built environment, rather than solely focussing on landscape and allied professionals. This has got to be the way forward if decision makers, whether public or private sector, are going to truly embrace GI and in turn not only help to ensure that development/regeneration is sustainable socially, economically and environmentally, but also that it can and does save money in the long run.
Speakers during the morning included Boris Johnson (via video), Joshua David and Robert Hammond (The High Line, New York), Matthew Pencharz (Mayoral Advisor on Environment, Nigel Hughes (Director of Planning and Environment, Grosvenor) and Tom Butterworth (Senior Advisor, Natural England) and of course our own Ross Ingham. Topics were as follows:
Nigel Hughes presented Grosvenor’s approach to their Belgravia and Mayfair estates and the way in which they have implemented public realm improvements and the impact that has had.
Tom Butterworth outlined the ‘Micro-Economic Benefits of Investment in the Environment’ (MEBIE) Review, which focusses on demonstrating the benefits of investing in Green Infrastructure – a fantastic source of information for anyone trying to justify GI spend, especially in an age of austerity. Natural England are keen to hear from anyone who has examples of the benefits of investing in GI as this review is a constantly being updated.
Ross Ingham presented the benefits of investing in GI from the public sector/local government viewpoint. His presentation focussed on five key points: GI’s ability to; Improve public perception and credibility of wider regeneration projects, generate impetus and resolve with public partners, improve market perception and attractiveness of development opportunities, establish a quality threshold, support the case for compulsory purchase orders and benefit developer procurements. If you would like further information on this presentation or indeed would like us to come and talk to you about it please do not hesitate to contact either Ross or Kate (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)
Ross and Kate then sat on a panel at the end of the morning answering questions from the audience. One admittedly light hearted Gardeners’ Question Time query in particular caught the panel out: Who would you like to see as a champion for GI?’, answers included Jeremy Clarkson(!), the late Roger Deakin, the Mayor of London and of course The Landscape Institute.
Of course the highlight of the day was the unveiling of the High Line winners, Fletcher Priest Architects, whose entry, Pop Down, proposed the reuse of Royal Mail tunnels under Oxford Street to create an underground urban mushroom garden. The competition was run jointly by The Landscape Institute, Garden Museum and the Mayor of London and the brief asked for entrants to put forward ideas for ‘new green spaces and places in the city that could include innovations in transport or other services which could add to the capital’s green infrastructure.’ Judges for the competition included the founders of New York’s High Line, an extremely successful Green Infrastructure project in the heart of Manhattan. The park is built on an historic freight line and elevated above the streets. The submissions were of exceptional quality and illustrated an amazing wealth of design talent.
Not only was the event a great success, but the venue was a triumph too. The Garden Museum is a wonderful example of a modern, but carefully and considerately converted church, in the heart of Lambeth and well worth a visit.