Urban Greening

Week 43 – Urban greening

I think the latest living wall we’ve installed (as part of a new office development in Old Street, London) looks great. Some might say I would say that as I designed them. But I’m not biased, I’m passionate. Be it one of my living walls, a green roof, a community garden or any other type of urban greening, it’s not just about it looking great. Urban greening is important for many reasons.

Urban greening refers to public landscaping and urban forestry projects that create mutually beneficial relationships between city dwellers and their environments.

The Mayor of London and the London Assembly wants to significantly increase the area of green cover in the built environment. The London Environment Strategy includes policies and proposals that aim to ensure that more than half of London will be green by 2050 and the city’s tree canopy cover increases by 10%.

London is a growing city. By 2050 it is expect that up to 3 million more people will live there. A well planned and managed green infrastructure network will be vital to help the city stay healthy and liveable as the population becomes larger. It will also help the city adapt as the climate changes and we experience hotter, dryer summers and more extreme downpours.

The Mayor’s new London Plan includes policies that protect the city’s best green spaces and natural areas. However, the pressures on land for the good quality homes, schools, hospitals and places of work which we need, means there will be few opportunities to create more traditional parks and nature reserves as the city grows. London must therefore become greener whilst also becoming denser. To meet this challenge new developments will need to include more green roofs, walls and other urban greening. Existing buildings, streets and public realm will need to become greener too.

Green roofs and walls are an essential component of a greener, denser city especially in those areas which have historically had a deficiency in parks and green spaces. They can help store stormwater, provide additional wildlife habitat, or, increasingly, create greener public realm or roof gardens above our busy streets.

My hope is that the living walls we are installing right now will contribute to the wellbeing of future tenants for many years to come. My dream is that we get the chance to install many more living walls in cities across the UK.