The last decade has seen a considerable shift in the design of urban space and construction. Developers have switched from designing urban places around buildings and roadways, to focusing on people and communities.

Towns and cities do not exist without people. They are areas where people live, work, socialise, and generally give a purpose to a space. But for years, we’ve designed urban space around buildings, roads and other infrastructure elements while people have just had to live with it.

However, property developers are realising that public places and urban spaces are most successful when they put people first. This means creating attractive spaces that people want to spend time in. Spaces that have amenities and communal areas, shelter and seating, recreational and wellbeing value. This has taken the form of landscaped courtyards, podium gardens and roof terraces, as well as using green alternatives – living walls as facades, green roofs instead of hard.

A number of government backed initiatives has pushed this green shift. This includes London’s Urban Greening Factor requirements, which aims to influence green developments throughout England’s capital by ensuring every scheme contributes to its green goals. The Biodiversity Net Gain scheme is a similar idea ensuring each development delivers a minimum 10% increase in ‘biodiversity value’.

London’s green goals

The schemes are effective, but then London has set itself bold green targets. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has committed to making more than half of London green by 2050 and to increase the city’s tree canopy cover by 10 per cent. There is also expected to be an extra 3 million people living in London by then. A well planned and managed green infrastructure network will be vital to help the city stay healthy and liveable as the population grows. It will also help the city adapt as the climate changes and we experience hotter, drier summers and more extreme downpours.

As buildings become greener, construction itself is following suite. Sustainability has grown in significance, with many large players making it a key part of their strategy and targets. Canary Wharf Group are a great example of this. They, among others, are committed to Net Carbon Zero by 2030.

Urban space landscaping contractors

This trend towards greener urban space is only set to increase. New developments are greener than they have ever been, and their environmental credentials have become a measure of success. In London, we are seeing some streets narrowed and even shut off completely and revamped for pedestrian use. It’s exciting to see the value placed on biophilic, green design, and recognition of the benefits it has on our wellbeing – long may it continue!

For over 40 years, Valley Provincial have enhanced London’s environment with our range of landscaping and horticultural services. From interior planting through to technical hard landscaping schemes, we look forward to turning more urban space green.

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