the surrounding environment
The quality of people’s homes
is influenced by the spaces around them. There is increasing
recognition that well-designed, well-managed green spaces
by and in between housing are crucial to making neighbourhoods
liveable, and contribute to people’s quality of life.
Social housing estates are
all too often some of the worst urban landscapes. Adequate
maintenance is central to keeping a block in good order,
but a sustainable development approach should seek to do
more than this and actually work to improve the social and
ecological quality of the area.
The Government is now addressing
the declining quality of many parks and urban green spaces.
New policy guidance, the establishment of CABE Space and
new funding programmes, are all aiming to raise the quality
of our urban green spaces. While there may not be resources
to turn uncared for land into a quality park, well-designed
local green space can still offer:
connection with the natural world
What needs to be done
to enhance green spaces needs to focus on:
the needs of the residents
about a real and clear improvement
the local biodiversity
that the improvements can be properly maintained
be useful to get expert help from organisations such as
Groundwork or BTCV who are skilled in local environmental
improvement. They will be able to help both on working with
local residents to get their ideas and also on doing an
initial survey to assess the quality of the existing environment.
They will also be able to advise on existing good practice
in the area and may well have idea son suitable funding
sources to carry out the work
Enhance ecological impact
Most built environments have a
negative impact on the ecology of the surround areas.
Ecological impact refers to a habitat or species being
affected directly or indirectly due to changes in the
environment brought about by human development. The principle is first to minimise damage to the existing
local ecology during the refurbishment process and then to
enhance it as far as practicable.
Planting native trees:
The site's ecology can be
further enhanced by adding native trees and shrubs/hedge
planting through sensitive landscaping.
Bat and Nest boxes:
Bat are becoming rare in the
UK due to the lack of suitable roosting sites. Gardens can
be valuable feed for birds and with shrubs and hedges
attractive to moths and other insects, the surround areas
may be able to support bat population.
It is important to implement good horticultural practice in
any landscaping scheme. this includes, of pest free
composts, mulch and soil conditioners. The use of herbicides
and pesticides is discouraged, to prevent negative effects
on invertebrates and/or mammals and birds. Any herbicides
used should be non-residual.
Environmental improvements should work with the local
ecology: it is important to find out what plants are
naturally suited to growing in the area where you are
Creating wildlife areas will need to be balanced with
the need to ensure the area is and feels safe for people
Involving the block residents in practical work may well
help to cut vandalism
A simple sheltered area where residents can hold
barbeques, picnics etc. can be simple to set up and may
be very popular.
If a garden or wildlife area is to be created this may
well need to be fenced off, with security and budgetary
to successful enhancement are two-fold. One key is a clear
plan agreed with residents that is feasible and can be developed
over time. The second is to have a clear maintenance agreement,
with the local council, an environmental body or indeed
with the local residents, and the budget to ensure that
this work is done.