Standards for blue-green infrastructure

Jane Houghton, Clare Warburton, Mike Grace, Alison Smith, Peter Neal, Ian Mell, Gemma Jerome, Martin Moss, David Fanaroff, Amy Coomes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


There are both well established and emerging standards and tools that make an important contribution to improving the planning, design, delivery and quality of bluegreen infrastructure (BGI), to better meet the needs of people, nature and the economy and to increase climate resilience. However, there is a corresponding need to raise the profile of these tools, and ensure that they are accessible. New BGI standards and tools need to be developed to fill both existing and emergent gaps in practice. The ‘Green Infrastructure Framework – Principles and Standards for England’ is therefore being developed by Natural England, working closely with Defra and other government departments and with stakeholders, to fulfil a commitment in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan to review existing BGI standards and develop a new Framework of Green Infrastructure Standards. This chapter introduces the concept of BGI standards, describes the different elements of the Green Infrastructure Framework and then focuses on the Green Infrastructure Standards within the Framework. The Green Infrastructure Framework can be used alongside planning guidance. It is an online package that includes BGI principles, standards, process journeys, a mapping database tool, a planning and design guide and case studies. It aims to help raise the impact of BGI by bringing greater consistency and weight to the application of best BGI practice at different spatial scales. The BGI Standards comprise three tiers: a small suite of headline standards, a full menu of the standards needed to deliver good BGI, and a ‘signposting table’, which is a comprehensive collation of existing English and UK BGI standards, benchmarks, tools, industry-recognised guidance and accreditation systems currently in use, which matches each one to the principles of the Green Infrastructure Framework. The full menu organises standards, indicators, tools and guidance under the five principles that describe good BGI: accessible, connected, reflecting local character, multifunctional and varied. The headline standards include: a Green Infrastructure Strategy Standard, Accessible Greenspace Standards including Green Flag Award Criteria, an Urban Nature Recovery Standard, a National Urban Greening Factor Standard and an Urban Tree Canopy Cover Standard. Finally, ‘Building with Nature’, a national benchmark for BGI with associated accreditation, is included as a case study example of the BGI standards included in the signposting table. This benchmark includes 12 standards that differentiate a BGI approach from a conventional green and open space approach, thereby creating a robust foundation for quality placemaking.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICE Manual of Blue-Green Infrastructure
EditorsCarla Washbourne, Claire Wansbury
PublisherICE Publishing
ISBN (Print)9780727765420
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023


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