Maintaining and restoring the natural environment will play a fundamental role in sustaining our collective future. People’s connection with nature can increase their health and well-being, one of the range of social, economic and environmental services provided by the natural environment without which society could not function. Planning for new and existing communities provides real opportunities to protect and enhance the intrinsic and practical value of the natural environment while responding to specific challenges posed by climate change. Thinking about nature should be the starting point of good planning, and is an essential component of delivering sustainable development.

The planning system in England has undergone fundamental change through the Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework, which have shifted power to the local and neighbourhood levels while continuing to emphasise the importance of sustainable development and supporting the objectives of the Natural Environment White Paper. The Government no longer sees it as its role to provide detailed policy guidance but wishes local authorities and communities to be active and innovative in shaping their own future. The main objective of this guidance is to help local practitioners to deliver positive and practical solutions when planning for the future.


This guidance is designed to offer advice to planning practitioners on how green infrastructure and biodiversity can be enhanced and protected through the planning system. It summarises the latest policy drivers and distils the best of our current policy responses. It also sets out practical examples of successful projects and sources of further detailed information. It has been prepared with the support of a wide range of organisations who have specific expertise in the field of planning for green infrastructure and biodiversity. 

Download the guide here.