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How green urbanisation is key to unlocking “Beautiful Places”

by Matt Downs

Following the Housing Secretary’s announcements this week about creating beautiful, sustainable spaces through the National Planning Policy Framework and the introduction of the new National Model Design Code, Charlotte Markey, Green Urbanisation Innovation Manager at Polypipe Civils & Green Urbanisation, says green urbanisation can provide “equally beautiful, practical and future-proof” spaces.

Speaking at a Building Beautiful Places event on 20 July 2021, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced a range of planning measures “to enshrine quality, beauty and sustainability in the heart of local decision-making”. 

As part of this, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will be updated, using for the first time the word ‘beauty’ in relation to placemaking at both national and local levels. Jenrick also announced the introduction of a new National Model Design Code (NMDC) – a toolkit providing guidance for all elements of new developments, including tree-lined streets and sustainable drainage. 

Charlotte Markey, Green Urbanisation Innovation Manager at Polypipe Civils & Green Urbanisation.

In response, Charlotte Markey, Green Urbanisation Innovation Manager at Polypipe Civils & Green Urbanisation, said: “The announcements around the NPPF and the NMDC give the industry a real opportunity to focus on creating beautiful, sustainable and resilient communities. With such an emphasis on placemaking and the environment, we see the latest developments in sustainable drainage being a key driving force behind achieving these plans.

“The latest solutions in sustainable drainage systems use attenuated surface water at source to build resilient landscapes that can withstand increasingly frequent extreme weather events. These systems can also increase urban green density and support local ecosystems. By retaining, managing and reusing water at source, we can support the ‘tree-lined streets’ that form part of the newly announced toolkit and guidance for councils, planning teams and developers, as well as other green assets such as blue-green roofs, raingardens or other shared spaces.

“Through these systems and green urbanisation, we not only create beautiful and practical spaces that benefit individuals and communities, but we support biodiversity too. And crucially, managing and reusing water – our most valuable resource – in this way helps to build climate change resilience. The need for such solutions has never felt so timely following recent extreme weather occurrences around the world – from the deadly heatwave in the US and Canada to the fatal flooding in Germany. With more extreme temperatures, flooding and droughts predicted, it’s vital that the world acts now to mitigate these dangers. 

“By integrating with smart, digital technologies, these latest solutions will be able to use weather predictions to prepare for extreme weather and manage the water accordingly. 

“The aim of NPPF and NMDC is to make good quality design the norm. While many headlines following Jenrick’s announcements focus on the beauty aspect, we must not forget about the vital importance of building resilient landscapes that can withstand the impact of climate change and urban population expansion. Thankfully, with green urbanisation we can simultaneously achieve both and give local authorities, planning teams, designers and developers the tools they need for building spaces that are equally beautiful, practical and future-proof.”  


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