Ivan Clark, our Plan & Place-making Team Manager, is working with our partners to explore how we can deliver better quality greenspace in social housing developments.
Scotland’s urban green spaces provide a range of benefits for people and nature. They can provide opportunities to exercise, spaces to grow food and refuges for wildlife. Green space can also provide valuable services such as managing flood water and mitigating the effects of air and noise pollution. Considering green spaces as ‘green infrastructure’ in this way can help to create successful places with healthy, thriving communities.
But there are still many places in Scotland, often associated with areas of disadvantage, where green infrastructure is not fulfilling its potential in terms of the number of benefits it could provide. This is why we’re working with Main Street Consulting and other partners such as the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, to carry out research on how we can provide better green infrastructure alongside new and existing social housing.
In the last few weeks we’ve held workshops in Edinburgh and Glasgow with representatives of Housing Associations, Tenants associations, Landscape Architects, Council Greenspace Officers and other stakeholders. Early findings suggest there may be a range of ways of improving how we deliver social housing so that the benefits from green infrastructure are maximized including:
- Considering the potential function of the spaces around social housing much earlier on in the procurement and design process
- Providing a cost manual for green infrastructure with explicit comparisons with the cost of ‘grey’ infrastructure solutions
- The potential for green infrastructure to help social housing providers tackle problems that go beyond immediate housing need , such as loneliness and mental health issues
- Need for more flexible approaches to car park provision to free up space for green infrastructure
- Raising the awareness of key decision makers of the benefits of green infrastructure in a social housing context
The findings from the work will be published next Spring in an SNH Commissioned Report. The Project Steering Group will continue to build on the connections we’ve made to help turn the recommendations of the report into practical action.
From a personal perspective, I’ve been particularly impressed by the work that Housing Associations do and their willingness to engage in this project. Thank you to them and the other stakeholders who have provided such a valuable insights to their work.
Find out more about how we’re working with communities to deliver better places on the Green Infrastructure Fund website.