The benefits of green infrastructure – well-planned networks of high quality, multi-functional green space – are well known. We have moved beyond a time when green infrastructure was seen as solely having benefits for biodiversity, to now having a much better understanding of its role in creating cities that are resilient to the impacts of climate change; making a significant contribution to the physical and mental health of people; and encouraging low energy forms of transport such as walking and cycling. The evidence is all there - the next step is implementation.

The TCPA is the lead partner in a new five year project funded by INTERREG Europe, which aims to maximise the potential of green infrastructure to secure the future success of cities and regions in Europe. PERFECT (Planning for Environment and Resource eFficiency in European Cities and Towns) is a partnership between the TCPA as advisory partner and seven local authorities across Europe, who each bring their own area of expertise in how to create high quality networks of green spaces.

The challenge for the project is to learn how to convince key decision-makers and stakeholders that the social, economic and environmental evidence in favour of green infrastructure justifies strong policy and investment. Now is a more important time than ever for us to be learning from good practice across Europe, especially in a time of continued austerity for local government. Investment in green infrastructure has the potential to be a cost-effective and sustainable positive force for good in urban and rural areas.

Across the next five years of the project, the PERFECT partners will learn about good practices and new methodologies to integrate green infrastructure into their investment and planning strategies. Factsheets, expert papers, a good practice database and guidance documents will be produced for local authorities, and partners will create Action Plans to set out how they will create lasting change in their areas on the basis of the knowledge gained. Fundamental to creating change will be the capacity building of local authorities and their cross-sector delivery stakeholders.

The work of the project began with the first project meeting in February 2017 including visits to Bicester, and Rainham and Dagenham in east London, together with workshops and expert presentations. Partners are now completing surveys of their staff and stakeholders to understand how green infrastructure is currently valued, and a review of their policies and strategies on the topic. This will help the partners to set their baseline for the project, to target the areas that need improvement and learn from partners with specific strengths in those areas.

For more information and to stay in touch with the project’s developments please visit the website at interregeurope.eu/perfect/ or contact Henry Smith, Projects and Policy Manager, at henry.smith@tcpa.org.uk.