Covid’s lessons: Regreening our towns and cities

News

Kate Curtis gives us an insight to what would be on the top of her wish list – if she had the power to exact change.

The Government is proposing changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to place greater emphasis on beauty and placemaking. The National Design Guide, sets out how well designed places that are beautiful, healthy, greener, enduring and successful can be achieved in practice.

From a Landscape Architect’s point of view, a key element of this and top of my wish list for improving our environments, is the introduction of more trees to our streets to re-green our towns and cities.

Carefully integrated street trees bring may benefits to our environments for both people and wildlife. Trees can soften built form, provide individual character, improve air quality, provide shade and shelter and contribute to biodiversity.

The successful provision of trees in streets, (as living, growing organisms) is, however, not always easy. Consideration has to be given to the selection of the correct tree species for the location and the tree has to be given the correct conditions to thrive. There are several conflicting elements to successful street tree provision to be considered at the very beginning of the design process.

The above ground pressures include the successful integration of roads (e.g. space for large vehicles such as bin lorries) and pavements (e.g. avoiding damage to surfaces by roots and the unimpeded movement of pedestrians and cyclists). Below ground, there is a lot of competition for the space beneath our streets including the pipes, wires, and drains associated with all the utilities we require. Trees need access to air and water as well as the correct soil volumes to thrive, therefore early coordination with all these potentially conflicting elements is essential for success.

In short, carefully planned trees are good for us and our environments and I welcome the forthcoming plans, (and challenges as a designer) to introduce many more to our existing and future spaces. Myself and the team at Pegasus are well placed to assist developers in the successful delivery of this green infrastructure as part of a well-designed and commercially viable development.

Kate Curtis is a Chartered Landscape Architect and Director in the Environment Team at Pegasus Group, Leeds.

This article was first published in the Yorkshire Post on Saturday 3rd April 2021.

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