Natural England
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Natural England sets its 'green test' for new developments

Wildlife rich green spaces must be at the heart of all new development for the benefit of the natural environment and people's health and wellbeing, said Natural England last week as 20 new Growth Points around the country are announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Speaking in response to today’s announcement, Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England outlined five green points against which all new developments should be measured. Helen Phillips, said: “All new developments must pass a simple green test. Developers would never contemplate leaving out grey infrastructure, such as sewers and mains water from developments, so why should it be acceptable to leave out green infrastructure when it’s proven to improve people’s health and quality of life?"

Natural England wants to see networks of parks, open spaces and wild areas in all areas of significant growth and regeneration. To set developers on the right path, Natural England today sets out its 'Green Test' for all new developments.

All new developments should feature a green infrastructure which:

  1. Provides greenspace within 300m of every home;
  2. Supports an increase in priority species and habitats in and around new developments;
  3. Provides a wide variety of parks, wild areas and open spaces to meet the needs of both nature and people;
  4. Equips new development to cope with the effects of climate change and extreme weather events;
  5. Is designed to ensure it fits into any surrounding countryside and into its landscape setting.

Dr Phillips, continued: “Green infrastructure can help reduce flooding, moderate temperature extremes in the face of climate change, and provide places for wildlife to flourish and people to enjoy. We expect the detailed plans for the new Growth Points to pass our green tests. We will be looking for developments that improve the local environment – for people and for nature.”

The experience and expertise to establish green infrastructure already exists: Community Forests, Country and Regional Parks, Local Nature Reserves and a huge number of individual projects demonstrate the sorts of approaches that can be taken.

At Rainham Marshes, within the Thames Gateway, Natural England is working with the RSPB and the London Borough of Havering to secure significant new access to the marshes and Thames Riverside enabling people to enjoy this area for the first time in over 100 years.

Since 2006 Natural England has supported partnerships to deliver 72 green infrastructure projects in growth areas, and provided direct funding to 10 site based projects and advised 33 partners on site preparation and management. We will continue to provide advice to influence Green Infrastructure provision within growth points, eco-towns and growth areas and ensure high-quality greenspace is integrated into new urban development.

The full list of Growth Points can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government website

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact the Natural England press office 0845 603 9953, out of hours 07970 098005 or email:

Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. We conserve and enhance the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings.

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