Green Infrastructure Standards


The Green Infrastructure Standards are a key component of the Green Infrastructure Framework. They define what good green infrastructure ‘looks like’ for local planners, developers, parks and greenspace managers and communities, and how to plan it strategically to deliver multiple benefits for people and nature. When used together, these Green Infrastructure Standards will help stakeholders to deliver the 15 Green Infrastructure Principles and enable everyone to benefit from good green infrastructure provision.

The five Headline Green Infrastructure Standards are:

  • S1: Green Infrastructure Strategy Standard
  • S2: Accessible Greenspace Standard
  • S3: Urban Nature Recovery Standard
  • S4: Urban Greening Factor Standard
  • S5: Urban Tree Canopy Cover Standard

The Headline Green Infrastructure Standards distinguish the recommended levels of achievement for major new developments and for area wide application.

elephant park
Lendlease, Elephant Park
Major housing development is where 10 or more homes will be provided, or the site has an area of 0.5 hectares or more. For non-residential development it means additional floorspace of 1,000m2 or more, or a site of 1 hectare or more, or as otherwise provided in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.
Green Infrastructure Standards PDF Green Infrastructure Standards for England - Summary (NE 2023)

Please download this document for more detail on the five Headline Green Infrastructure Standards.

For further information on the Green Infrastructure Standards, please watch our Green Infrastructure Framework launch event.

Using the Headline Green Infrastructure Standards

The Headline Green Infrastructure Standards can be supplemented by local knowledge and evidence and used to:

  • Plan green infrastructure as part of new development or for new or retrofitting of Green Infrastructure in existing places.
  • Understand current green infrastructure provision based on a set of common standards.
  • Set local green infrastructure targets to meet standards.
  • Monitor and evaluate green infrastructure provision against standards

In due course, the Headline Standards will be supported by a Menu of Standards and Signposting Table (planned for 2023), which identify other sector green infrastructure standards, guidance, and best practice checklists.

Natural England will monitor and evaluate these headline standards over time to see how and whether they should be adjusted to reflect emerging good practice.

Natural England is preparing case studies to share best practice in application of the Green Infrastructure Framework.

Bristol Harbour
The three tier structure of the Green Infrastructure Standards
urban greening factor
Photo source Peter Neal

The Urban Greening Factor

The Urban Greening Factor (UGF) one of the five headline Green Infrastructure Standards. It is a planning tool to improve the provision of Green Infrastructure and increase the level of greening in urban environments. It is applied to major developments and sets a target score for the proportion of Green Infrastructure within a development site for specific land uses. It can be introduced through planning policies and strategies to increase Green Infrastructure provision across an entire local planning area, or it can be applied to specific locations. The UGF was first developed in Northern Europe in the late 1990s and has since been adopted by cities in Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia. It was introduced in the UK in 2015 and is now a prominent Green Infrastructure policy tool in the London Plan (2021) and is increasingly being used by Local Planning Authorities in the revision of their local plans.

Scores are calculated using a set of weighted Green Infrastructure Surface Cover Types that include natural and semi-natural vegetation, street trees, hedgerows, sustainable drainage features, green roofs and walls. The area of each Surface Cover Type used in a development scheme is multiplied by the weighting, and the sum of these figures divided by the total site area provides the overall UGF score for the site. This figure provides a means to measure and compare the functionality of Green Infrastructure design proposals and demonstrates whether a scheme achieves the target score set by planning policy.

UGF can be used alongside Biodiversity Net Gain to help set the quantity and functionality of Green Infrastructure that should be delivered on-site. Where the baseline biodiversity is low, the UGF can ensure development still promotes more nature-rich environments that increase the functionality, sustainability, and climate resilience, particularly in dense urban areas.

Urban Greening Factor for England User Guide

The User Guide explains the purpose and practice of applying Urban Greening Factors through the planning, design and development process. It describes the structure and content of the Urban Greening Factor for England; the setting of target scores for urban greening; the application of weighted green infrastructure surface cover types, and when and where they can most effectively be applied.

Urban Greening Factor Calculator Spreadsheet

The Spreadsheet can support stakeholders in calculating Urban Greening Factor scores.

Developing a Model Urban Greening Factor for England

This report introduces the Urban Greening Factor and provides an analysis and comparison of their current application in the UK and abroad. It also sets out a schedule of UGF policies that are currently used in UK planning practice.

Urban Greening Factor for England – Case Studies

This report provides 5 examples of current practice in developing and applying Urban Greening Factors through the planning, design and development process. The case studies describe the initial development of the policy, their content and structure and each provide examples of how Urban Greening Factors are included and applied in recent planning applications.

Urban Greening Factor for England – Summary Report

This Summary Report provides a summary of the research undertaken to inform the development of the Model Urban Greening Factor for England.