Introduction to the Green Infrastructure Framework - Principles and Standards for England

Join us for an update on the Green Infrastructure Framework in 2024.

More details on our training page.

Launched in January 2023, Natural England invites you to explore the new Green Infrastructure Framework.

The Green Infrastructure Framework comprises:

Bristol Harbour
Bristol Harbour L.Penfold

Good quality Green Infrastructure (GI) has an important role to play in our urban and rural environments for improving health and wellbeing, air quality, nature recovery and resilience to and mitigation of climate change, along with addressing issues of social inequality and environmental decline.

The Green Infrastructure Framework is a commitment in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. It supports the greening of our towns and cities and connections with the surrounding landscape as part of the Nature Recovery Network. Networks of green and blue spaces and other natural features can bring big benefits for nature and climate, health and prosperity. At present access to green and blue spaces varies considerably across the country, and there are opportunities for these important assets to be better managed for the environment and to deliver a wider range of multifunctional benefits.

The GI Framework will help local planning authorities and developers meet requirements in the National Planning Policy Framework to consider GI in local plans and in new development. It can support better planning for good quality GI, and help to target the creation or improvement of GI, particularly where existing provision is poorest.

The Framework has also been developed to enable other organisations and groups such as parks and greenspace managers and local communities to think more about GI and plan for its creation or improvement.

The development of the Green Infrastructure Framework has been overseen by a cross departmental steering group as part of the 25 Year Environment Plan. The Framework development has also benefited from technical input from an advisory group made up of Local Authorities, academics, sector institutions, voluntary sector bodies, representative organisations and businesses.

Consultation on the emerging Framework products has taken place in several phases with a broad range of key stakeholders. These activities included local planning authority trials, housing and development sector consultation, local authority consultation and a public survey consultation.

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what is green infrastructure

What is Green Infrastructure?

Green Infrastructure (GI) is a network of multi-functional green and blue spaces and other natural features, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental, economic, health and wellbeing benefits for nature, climate, local and wider communities and prosperity. (National Planning Policy Framework, 2021).

Green Infrastructure provides an opportunity to link with Biodiversity Net Gain, Local Nature Recovery Strategies, Nature Recovery Network, and Natural Capital.

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Green Infrastructure Principles

The GI Principles underpin the Framework. They provide a baseline for different organisations to develop stronger GI policy and delivery. The principles cover the why, what and how to do good GI.

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green infrastructure principles
green infrastructure standards

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.

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Green Infrastructure Mapping Database and Analyses

A freely available tool providing GI Mapping layers and analyses, and the GI Mapping Database User Guide.

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green infrastructure mapping
green infrastructure design guide

Green Infrastructure Planning and Design Guide

The purpose of the Green Infrastructure Planning and Design Guide is to provide evidence based practical guidance on how to plan and design good green infrastructure. It complements the National Model Design Code and National Design Guide and can be used to help planners and designers develop local design guides and codes with multifunctional green infrastructure at the heart. This will help to inspire the creation of healthier, nature-rich, climate resilient and thriving places to live, learn, work and play.

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Process Journeys

The Process Journeys should aid the development of informed and comprehensive Green Infrastructure related policy, strategy, delivery and management. The Process Journeys have been designed for different audiences to enable them to practically apply the Green Infrastructure Framework. The first three process journeys are designed for local authority policy planners, developers and neighbourhood plan groups.

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Photo source: Natural England
green infrastructure feedback mechanism

Feedback Mechanism

Following the launch in January 2023, we will seek feedback on key components of the Framework. We will support local authorities in assessing their green infrastructure against the new standards through a programme of training that supports uptake and delivery. Over time we will monitor and evaluate the GI standards as part of the 25 Year Environment Plan Outcomes Indicator Framework for blue and green infrastructure. We will use this data to understand how and whether the GI Standards should be adjusted.