London - NBS for a leading sustainable city

Challenges: 

The Mayor’s vision for the sustainable development of London is that by 2036 — and beyond — it should lead the world in tackling the urban challenges of the 21st century through expanding opportunities for people and businesses, while achieving the highest environmental standards and quality of life and tackling climate change (GLA, 2016). A number of nature-based solutions (NBS) are planned or being implemented to address these challenges, such as: green roofs and walls, planting street trees, expanding or improving green spaces, urban agriculture, natural water retention measures (NWRM) and the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Climate change underpins the challenge of meeting the Mayor’s vision as it could exacerbate the existing challenges of river flooding and flash flooding, drought, heatwaves, while diminishing that of snow. Also it could affect other aspects of the environment, including air and water quality and related health issues, as well as biodiversity. A review of the past costs associated with many of these events is provided by RAMSES (D5.1).

Objectives: 

The Greater London Authority (GLA) participants in the BRIDGE FP7  project identified the primary planning goals for the Central Activities Zone (CAZ)[1] as to: (a) increase green space; (b) improve air quality; (c) reduce the UHI effect (heat island) and (d) prevent flash floods, with climate change adaptation and mitigation seen as a cross cutting issue.

London has a number of plans aimed at addressing these challenges, including:

  • The Mayor’s London Plan in which two goals relate to urban green space and aim at addressing vegetation loss, overheating and flooding. To address the former it was envisioned to plant 2 million trees and to increase green space by 5 % by 2030 and another 5 % by 2050 (2011a), with the street tree programme especially targeting areas known to experience overheating. It also has a Living Roofs and Walls scheme focused on creating green roofs and recreational living roofs and green walls to help London adapt to the risks of climate change such as flooding, overheating, drought; and reducing the urban heat island effect in the city (GLA, 2008). The London Plan also has some measurable objectives, including a no net loss of designated Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation over the plan period, a reduction in CO2 emissions to 23 % below 1990 levels by 2016, no net loss of functional flood plain and the production of 945 GWh of energy from renewable sources by 2010 including at least six large wind turbines.
  • The London Infrastructure Plan 2050 sees green infrastructure (GI) as important in its own right and seeks to develop a business case for it (Mayor of London, 2015). The GLA has set up a Green Infrastructure Task Force to work on a more strategic and long-term approach to investing in and delivering green infrastructure.
  • The Mayor’s plan for an All London Green Grid (ALGG) sought to achieve a network of high quality, well-designed and multifunctional green and open spaces and to promote a shift from grey to green infrastructure to secure environmental, social and economic benefits (GLA, 2012). Such a grid was seen as the way to address the environmental challenges of the 21st century — most notably climate change.
  • The Natural Capital Investing in a Green infrastructure for Future London (GLA, 2015) takes forward ideas for the ALGG. It has the vision that by 2050 existing parks and green spaces will become part of an integrated GI network, all regeneration areas and major new developments will include GI (e.g. green roofs and walls) that is designed, amongst other things, for climate mitigation, water regulation and health; streets will be greener and more of London’s rivers will run in more natural courses in order to manage flooding, improve water quality and enhance river ecology. It also wants all people living in London to have ready access to good quality GI and for GI decisions to be based on natural capital valuation.
  • The Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy (GLA, 2010) aimed to minimise greenhouse emissions and the health effects of air pollution through increasing energy efficiency and including air quality impacts in the planning process. It aimed to encourage the development of green roofs and living walls on major new developments, recognising their benefits (and that of GI as a whole) in reducing pollutants, as well as improving energy consumption, the physical environment and helping control runoff.
  • The Mayor’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (GLA, 2011b) identified health, environment, economy and infrastructure as key focus areas. It recognised the importance of green spaces in providing ecosystem services, such as reducing flood risk by absorbing and temporarily retaining rainfall and moderating the temperature by offsetting the urban heat island effects, as well as reducing energy demand and supporting biodiversity and recreation. It also set out a vision for a Green Grid across London. The GLA also emphasised the importance of climate adaptation measures and included the suggestion of new trees for shade and green roofs for electricity substations.
  • The Mayor’s Water Strategy (GLA, 2011c) outlines how London can ensure water security and tackle water scarcity and sees GI as contributing to resilience to flooding and extreme weather events, as well as improving air quality. It includes a vision to develop at least three demonstration projects to show how urban greening measures can help to manage surface water flood risk.

[1] The CAZ covers the central London area, including the central business area and the commercial centre, with an overall area of roughly 3 300 ha and about 280 000 residents (BRIDGE Community of Practice Report 2).

Actions: 

A very large number of NBS projects have been undertaken in London and the potential for different NBS have been assessed by the GLA, including green walls and roofs (GLA, 2008). The examples below are all taken from EU funded projects.

The TURAS (FP7 project) work on green roofs compared the performance of different green roof systems in terms of a number of ecosystem services, including habitat provision/maintenance, water attenuation and thermal insulation. This was to explore the possibility of moving away from an industrial standard sedum system to a more biodiverse green roof system comprising wildflowers and of value to regional biodiversity of national conservation importance (Connop et al., 2013; Connop and Nash, 2014). Ephemeral wetland green roofs were created as a TURAS ecomimicry experiment at the Barking Riverside development, London, UK (Plate 1). The roofs were created to investigate the potential for recreating key habitats associated with the site’s pre-development brownfield state as part of the green infrastructure strategy. Habitat mosaics were created on the green roofs by manipulating the drainage, using different aggregates, and varying the substrate depths. Roofs were then monitored by TURAS researchers to assess how the habitat niches influenced overall biodiversity on the roofs.

In 1968 the River Quaggy in Lewisham, south London, flooded the centre of Lewisham to a depth in excess of 1 metre. There has also been flooding more recently. The aim of the project was to put in place flood control and flood risk mitigation measures, while ensuring no loss of urban green areas (NWRM, no date). Previous flood alleviation measures had consisted of concrete channels and walls and the plan was to raise these further. This would have led to the loss of a large number of well-established trees. Strong local resistance to this resulted in setback flood defences being designed into the gardens of the properties, supplemented by increasing the floodplain in Sutcliffe Park and the storage capacity of the detention basin.

Barking Riverside is a 443 acre brownfield site in the Borough of Barking and Dagenham where development over a 20 year period was designed to deliver 10 800 new housing units for 20 000 residents. The planning process also recognised the ecosystem service potential of the site, such that planning consent set out a number of conditions to ensure the development’s sustainability. These included: the conservation of the site’s valuable biodiversity; the retention of 40 % of the site as green space; and the development of a comprehensive Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUD) system (Connop and Nash, 2014). In the context of the restoration and large-scale sustainable development of the brownfield site at Barking Riverside, TURAS explored multidisciplinary approaches to landscape design that could enhance the environmental, social and economic value of the green infrastructure (e.g. green walls and roofs, SUDs). A key aim was to ensure that the biodiversity and ecosystem service values of the pre-development state of the brownfield site would be conserved throughout the development process and that resilience would be embedded at the heart of the new community (Connop et al., 2016). To do this it used ecomimicry (that is the mimicking of the characteristics of ecosystems) to incorporate habitat interest features typical of regional habitat of national or international conservation value. A community wildlife garden was designed, based on ecomimicry design principles developed by TURAS researchers (Plate 2). Conservation priority invertebrate species and key habitat features associated with the brownfield site prior to the development of Barking Riverside were identified and fed into the design of the garden. The garden was then used to introduce residents to the wildlife that was associated with the site prior to development and residents were shown how they could recreate these features in their own gardens.

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park action concerned the assessment (based on one year of monitoring) of the biodiversity value of an existing 0.25 hectare biodiverse green roof to which solar panels had been added (Plate 3). The green roof was designed using ecomimicry principles inspired by the brownfield sites that were in the area prior to the Olympic Park development. The photovoltaic panels were arranged to enhance the habitat mosaic and TURAS researchers worked to monitor the roof development to assess whether an effect of the design could be quantified in terms of niche provision for biodiversity. It was found to have high invertebrate diversity compared to other green roofs in London. Some important local and national species were recorded (Nash et al., 2016). Other facets of the roof also contributed to the richness, such as habitat piles and different substrates. Some concern has been expressed about the possible need for the irrigation of green roofs, especially in their early stages and the potential for conflict under water scarcity (BRIDGE Task 3.1), although there is no agreement on whether this is an issue.

The Beetle Bump (Plate 4) — a brownfield-inspired nature reserve constructed and monitored at the University of East London (UEL), Docklands Campus, London as part of the TURAS programme. The project was a rescue attempt for what was probably Britain’s rarest insect, the streaked bombardier beetle (Brachinus sclopeta). The beetles were found on a nearby brownfield site that received planning permission for development (UEL, 2014; TURAS D2. 3). The beetles were rescued by UEL and Buglife staff and the ‘Beetle Bump’ was created using ecomimicry design principles. Made from 65 tonnes of recycled materials (hard core, chalk, brick and topsoil) and seeded with floral species typical of the high quality open mosaic habitat typical of the region’s best brownfield sites, the Beetle Bump was designed as a multifunctional space blending art, landscape design and conservation of habitat to support the streaked bombardier (Connop, 2012). Beetles rescued from the donor site were released at UEL where the site was used as an open-air laboratory to study the behaviour and habitat requirements of the beetles and the benefits of urban brownfield landscaping. 

Table 1 - Ecosystem Services*

* adapted from CICES/MAES-urban

Green roofs (London/Barking Riverside)

Water management: 
Water flow regulation and run off mitigation
Green space management: 
Habitat and gene pool regulation
Links to further Ecosystem-based Approaches: 
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA)
Green Infrastructure (GI)

Natural Water Retention Measures (NWRM) — River Quaggy

Water management: 
Flood control
Water flow regulation and run off mitigation
Green space management: 
Habitat and gene pool regulation
Links to further Ecosystem-based Approaches: 
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA)

Brownfield restoration, Barking Riverside

Water management: 
Flood control
Water flow regulation and run off mitigation
Public health wellbeing: 
Nature based recreation
Green space management: 
Habitat and gene pool regulation
Links to further Ecosystem-based Approaches: 
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA)
Green Infrastructure (GI)

Olympic Park — biosolar roofs

Water management: 
Water flow regulation and run off mitigation
Air quality: 
Regulation of air quality by urban trees and forests
Urban temperature regulation
Green space management: 
Habitat and gene pool regulation
Links to further Ecosystem-based Approaches: 
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA)
Green Infrastructure (GI)

Beetle Bump, University of East London campus

Green space management: 
Habitat and gene pool regulation
Links to further Ecosystem-based Approaches: 
Green Infrastructure (GI)
Impacts: 

There are a number of potential impacts of NBS that could address the challenges identified for London, which were assessed by the different projects through modelling.

  1. Thermal stress

Modelling in BRIDGE has shown that vegetation can be important in adding to shadows at ground level, particularly in summer (Lindberg and Grimmond, 2011). This is important as this is when urban heat waves are more prevalent and heat stress is likely to occur. The mean reduction in mean radiant temperature along a north-south transect across London when vegetation is included is 3.1 °C (min. 1.4 (7S) max 7.5 (9S)) during the summer and 3.2 °C (min. 1.2 (7S) max 3.5 (9S)) during autumn.

  1. Flood risk

In BRIDGE, the impact of land use change on the water balance was modelled by changing houses and streets from baseline to green areas with deciduous trees by +/- 2 %, +/- 5 %. For runoff, this showed a decrease to 0.98 and 0.93 (relative change to base) for a 2 % and 5 % increase in deciduous trees respectively (D8.2).

RAMSES is going to apply its flood model to London to identify the flood hazard, exposure and vulnerability, especially for transport. Based on work in Newcastle it is expected that big events cannot be handled by GI alone, but that it can have benefits if placed strategically. RAMSES are working to understand flow paths and to identify the best places for its location. This ties in with a GLA stakeholder in BRIDGE who said that they were supportive of tree planting, but, for managing floods, trees are not helpful. For lower rainfall events, GI can provide benefits especially if it is at or near the source of flow. It is also intended in RAMSES to use modelling to test how different green adaptation options, including blue and green roofs, permeable pavements and urban green space, could affect water flows (D3.3).

TURAS has carried out lab experiments using rainfall simulators into the effectiveness of different types of green roofs with carious substrates under simulated rainfall conditions.

  1. Air quality

BRIDGE applied the UFORE model to three scenarios within the CAZ and with two model assumptions: a) 50 % re-suspension of particles b) zero re-suspension. This showed the importance of trees in PM10 removal, with conifers being particularly important due to their greater effectiveness (Tallis et al., 2011), stemming from the presence of their needles all the year round (Table 1). Modelling using two different methods for calculating PM10 removal showed that there could be a 19 % reduction in PM10 removal by 2050 due to a decrease in PM10 exposure (Tallis et al., 2011). If the GLA plan (GLA, 2010) to increase the canopy cover from 20 % to 30 % of the land area by 2050 is realised and the proportion of the different types of tree cover remain the same, then PM10 capture could increase by 18 %.

Table 1: Modelled PM10 removal by street canopy trees (from BRIDGE D3.4).

Current tree cover, PM10 levels and meteorology

Maximum possible street tree planting density with current PM10 and meteorology

50 % re-suspension of particles

zero re-suspension

50 % re-suspension of particles

zero re-suspension

Total uptake of PM10 (kg/annum)

79

126

135

215

Uptake by deciduous trees

3.7

5.8

3.7

5.8

Uptake by coniferous trees

6.1

62.0

6.1

62.0

  1. Increasing GI

BRIDGE modelled the potential for green roof expansion based on the slope of the roof (<20 % slope) and the area of roof with that slope (>25 m). It showed that about 15 % of the CAZ area potentially be retrofitted with green roofs (D3.4).

Table 2 - NBS Multiple Benefits**

Green roofs

Enhancing sustainable urbanisation: 
Changing image of the urban environment
Creation of green jobs relating to construction & maintenance of NBS
Improve water quality
Restoring ecosystems and their functions: 
Increase Biodiversity
Increase quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
Developing climate change mitigation: 
Carbon sequestration and storage
More energy efficient buildings
Developing climate change adaptation; improving risk management and resilience: 
Increasing infiltration
Reduce load to sewer system
Reduce run-off
Reducing temperature at meso or micro scale

NWRM

Enhancing sustainable urbanisation: 
Improve water quality
Increase population & infrastructures protected by NBS
Reduce costs for water treatments
Restoring ecosystems and their functions: 
Greater ecological connectivity across urban regenerated sites
Increase Biodiversity
Developing climate change mitigation: 
Carbon sequestration and storage
Developing climate change adaptation; improving risk management and resilience: 
Increasing infiltration
Reduce drought risk
Reduce flood risk
Reduce load to sewer system
Reduce run-off

Brownfield restoration - Barking Riverside

Enhancing sustainable urbanisation: 
Changing image of the urban environment
Improve water quality
Increase population & infrastructures protected by NBS
Restoring ecosystems and their functions: 
Greater ecological connectivity across urban regenerated sites
Improve connectivity and functionality of green and blue infrastructures
Increase achievements of biodiversity targets
Increase Biodiversity
Developing climate change mitigation: 
Carbon sequestration and storage
Developing climate change adaptation; improving risk management and resilience: 
Flood peak reduction
Reduce flood risk
Reducing temperature at meso or micro scale

Olympic Park — biosolar roofs

Enhancing sustainable urbanisation: 
Changing image of the urban environment
Creation of green jobs relating to construction & maintenance of NBS
Increase stakeholder awareness & knowledge about NBS
Restoring ecosystems and their functions: 
Improve connectivity and functionality of green and blue infrastructures
Increase Biodiversity
Developing climate change mitigation: 
Carbon sequestration and storage
More energy efficient buildings
Developing climate change adaptation; improving risk management and resilience: 
Increasing infiltration
Reducing temperature at meso or micro scale

Beetle Bump, University of East London campus

Enhancing sustainable urbanisation: 
Changing image of the urban environment
Increase stakeholder awareness & knowledge about NBS
Restoring ecosystems and their functions: 
Increase achievements of biodiversity targets
Increase Biodiversity
Developing climate change mitigation: 
Carbon sequestration and storage
Multiple Benefits: 

There are a large number of NBS initiatives and actions in London, as they are seen as playing an important role in making London a green capital and in achieving its sustainability goals through addressing multiple objectives. These include mitigating surface water flooding, improving air quality, urban cooling, walking and cycling opportunities, aesthetic improvements and enhancing biodiversity and ecological resilience (Cross River Partnership, 2016). The examples above demonstrate how NBS can not only enhance biodiversity and sustainability, but also contribute to climate mitigation through carbon storage, as well as reducing heat stress and flood risks. They also include exemplars of how these multiple benefits can be achieved, when restoring brownfield sites or constructing green roofs.

Ecosystems covered: 
Grassland
Rivers and lakes
Urban
Woodland and forest
Integration: 

The planning process is a key element in the implementation of GI and NBS. For example, the London Plan and local authorities have GI on their agenda, as London has a green roof policy. Also, there has been an important report recently on incorporating nature into housing developments as a way of meeting some of the biodiversity targets in the London Plan (London Assembly, 2017). It includes a number of important NBS-related recommendations, including amendment of the Plan to include ‘net gain’ of nature, and GI is seen as an important mechanism for its delivery.

Data on rainfall simulation of the effectiveness of green roofs with different substrates was passed to the GLA as they were building a GI database and assessing the performance of SUDS. Several projects e.g. with Transport for London, Museum of London and Derbyshire PP linked back to TURAS e.g. Drain London (Connop, pers. comm). Also there was interest from Bowder Engineering, a company fitting green roofs, who wanted to use rainfall simulator to explore the use of different substrates as they wanted to move towards more biodiverse roofs. The revised planning consent for Barking Riverside is almost entirely based on findings from TURAS (J. Sinclair, pers. comm).

TURAS has prepared GI guidelines for local authorities, which are being used by city planners and designers to promote better urban resilience (WP2). TURAS findings are being disseminated through PhD and postdoctoral researchers, and this also helps to expand connections to policy-makers and planners in the case study area and in London as a whole. The TURAS document on ecomimicry (Connop and Nash, 2016) is being sent to local authorities and is part of the information that goes out to developers/landscape architects to show what they can do.

Key lessons: 
  1. Cost-effectiveness

The GLA have estimated that an average of 32 % of roof area could potentially be greened (GLA, 2008) and two options have been explored (GLA, 2008). The first is to install green roofs covering an area of 226 750 m2 in four inner city areas, which would cost around GBP 4 million (EUR 4.5 million, exchange rate 7 November 2017) and provide environmental benefits worth GBP 4 million (EUR 4.5 million, exchange rate 7 November 2017). The second option would comprise a much larger area with 3.2 million m2 of roof space and would cost around GBP 55.5 million (EUR 63 million, exchange rate 7 November 2017), but with additional environmental benefits. A 850 m2 retrofitted green roof on a building in Canary Wharf, has achieved an estimated reduction of 25 920 kWh [11.46 CO2 eq. tonnes] a year through reducing heating and cooling of the spaces below the roof, with an estimated saving of up to GBP 4 000-5 000 per year in electricity [pers.comm. Tony Partington Canary Wharf Co. in GLA, 2008].

The River Quaggy project found that the NWRM costs were generally lower than those for more ‘traditional’ measures, and while the costs associated with re-meandering the channel and creating the detention basin were not small, a greater range of (multiple) benefits was achieved (NWRM, no date).

  1. Lessons learned

The River Quaggy project identified a number of key lessons including the importance of early and continued consultation during all phases of the project to develop project ownership by the community (NWRM, no date). This helped in the implementation and operation of the setback flood defences in a highly residential area, by the use of private gardens. The project employed a full-time public liaison officer during the planning and implementation phases. Communication and a positive attitude are essential. A catchment-scale approach allowed for greater overall improvement by enabling some measures that could not have been implemented in isolation.

Lessons from the TURAS work in London include: getting NBS implemented takes longer than expected, so allow for this; while one can control a small-scale experiment one cannot control things in practice when dealing with nature, so one has to be flexible; there is a need to embed monitoring progress in the design phase as it is very hard to retrofit it and that legacy management needs to be planned at an early stage (Connop, pers. comm).

Stakeholder Participation/Participatory Planning and Governance: 

In the River Quaggy, local people were involved throughout the decision-making and implementation process, including providing the land in their gardens for the setback measures (NWRM, no date).

Public-private working occurred in Barking Riverside, where GLA worked with the developer Bellway to ensure the incorporation of GI. It is now seen as an exemplar and has been described as ‘the most exciting project in the whole of London.’ Also in Barking Riverside, where a new community is being created, a Community of Interest Company (CIC) has been established to eventually takeover entirely the management of the public space from the GLA and developer. TURAS (Stuart Connop) is involved in the CIC and providing advice on GI and is helping with the transitioning. TURAS have similarly been involved in other projects round London, including one in Hammersmith (primarily on climate change adaptation) where they talked to residents before designing GI. In Poplar-HARCA, there was an idea to create a Green Mile along the A12  road and TURAS was involved in bringing their GI expertise into the regeneration of the estate, identifying opportunities for GI enhancement and showing how to embed biodiversity, as well as identifying a series of projects to increase its attractiveness and air quality. The document they produced was given to the landscape architects and has become part of a bigger TfL (Transport for London) plan for the A12 (Connop, pers. comm.). TURAS are also working with the London Wildlife Trust who are building a community garden, so that if there is a community event TURAS has a board to explain what rain gardens, SUDS etc., are so that the local residents understand what is there and why.

Potential for new economic opportunities and green jobs in the EU and in global markets: 

There is an opportunity to develop and market GI skills as shown by the TURAS experience. Hammersmith Council approached TURAS (University of East London) for training in green skills and SUDS management, as they perceived an overall lack of expertise in GI and thought that they were some of the people who can do it. Tower Hamlets Council also approached them as they wanted SUDS guidance, wanted to learn from Barking Riverside and recognised that they were the only people who could produce tailored guidance for them. TURAS not only worked with them to develop this guidance on GI with biodiversity at its core, but also, as they wanted to demonstrate it could be done, they sourced Pocket Park funding for the SUDS. They won a Landscape Institute award for the design. In addition, Dermott Foley Landscape Architects have been successful in international bids for new NBS and co-creation processes in the last few years drawing upon their experiences as contributors in TURAS (WP2).

Success and Limiting Factors: 

Success can revolve around a number of factors including the integration of GI into the planning process, the (early) and full engagement of local communities, the championing of NBS by individuals or organisations. Barriers can be related to personnel and there are also issues around the cost-effectiveness of NBS.

The success of NBS in Barking Riverside owed much to the recognition of the ecosystem value of green space so planning consent for the site set out a number of conditions to ensure sustainability, including:

• the development of sustainable public transport infrastructure;

• the conservation of the site’s valuable biodiversity;

• the retention of 40 % of the site as green space;

• the development of a comprehensive sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS).

The master plan also included the use of green roofs on 40 % of the properties, combined with swales, rain gardens, balancing ponds and the pre-existing creek network. This fits with the BRIDGE suggestion that GI is integrated too late in the planning process, which results in sub-optimal solutions like smaller tree species and irrigation-dependent trees that are decorative but cannot provide environmental services (Task 8.1).

In the GLA, NBS are facilitated by the planning framework which supports and encourages their implementation and there are now a number of very good examples. Also the planning framework is less prescriptive than in other (European) cities. London is possibly a special case, not just because of its size, but also because land values are very high and often high specification developments are carried out in which NBS costs are a small part of the overall development costs. In addition, developers are increasingly concerned about their image and resident pressure, and green approaches help in addressing these (all Peter Massini, pers. comm.).

In the River Quaggy, engagement with the public from the start was seen as critical to the success of the NWRM, as well the residents’ desire and a political will for a more natural option than traditional defences (NWRM, no date). Local residents groups were formed and were involved in various local issues, such as the design of the defences and dealing with Japanese knotweed. Another contribution to its success was the involvement of a multidisciplinary team of engineers, landscape architects, and ecologists in the design to ensure that opportunities for major visual, social and ecological enhancements were optimised while managing the flood risk.

Success can also revolve round an individual, thus changing personnel can be negative if a GI champion is lost, which can lead to many green elements in a new development being left behind for various reasons. For example, Stuart Connop (TURAS) has been important in staying involved with the Barking Riverside development; this is welcomed by the GLA and Barking and Dagenham Council.

A barrier to the implementation of NBS can be a lack of knowledge about cost-effectiveness. For example, a barrier to increasing green canopy cover is a lack of cost/benefit analysis of the various potential multiple monetary benefits e.g. estimating the benefits with respect to health, as well as climate change through a reduction in air conditioning and in flood prevention (BRIDGE 2009). BRIDGE Task 8.1: ‘We are still looking for ways to monetarise the benefits of green, how can we charge back the benefit of greening? Maintenance cost of green often blocks the creation of new areas; but it saves having to pay for sewage, air conditioning etc.’ (Grimmond, 2010).

In the GLA’s assessment of green walls and roofs, a number of barriers to implementation were identified: lack of common standards, fire hazard, maintenance, cost, structural issues, leakage and damage to waterproofing, lack of expertise and lack of policy (GLA, 2008).

Financing: 

The Land Trust has developed a service charge financial model for developers to ensure green space is well-maintained in the long term. This model involves residents within all new houses contributing to the annual costs of maintaining the green spaces, with the funding also covering some of the costs of a community ranger who generates community involvement, volunteering opportunities and organised events and activities. This is seen as having the additional benefits of improving the health and well-being of the residents, while providing educational opportunities and involving them in habitat maintenance.

The monitoring of the Olympic Park biosolar roof was made possible by the support of the London Legacy Development Corporation, one of whose aims is to secure a biodiversity legacy for the London 2012 Olympic Games (Nash et al., 2016).

In London there are sources of money which can contribute to further work or co-finance projects e.g. Drain London, Thames Water, Regional Pocket Parks.

Drivers: 

The challenges in London are important drivers, especially in the context of sustainability, while the planning process certainly facilitates the implementation of GI and NBS. For example, local authorities have GI on their agenda, as London has a green roof policy and, as stated earlier, in Barking Riverside it was a part of the planning consent: developers had to ensure that there was no greater release of water and biodiversity conservation occurred. Hence, the SUDS strategy is another driver, which can also lead to the release of money e.g. in this case from Thames Water. Also, TURAS established a knowledge transfer partnership between Barking Riverside Ltd, the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Livingroofs.org, the University of East London and the Institute for Sustainability to investigate how GI design can increase the sustainability and resilience of the development (Connop and Nash, 2014).

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD) joined TURAS for a variety of reasons including learning from other cities undergoing the same rapid changes and from other project partners, as finding different, smarter ways of working at a time of budget constraints. Furthermore, it was undertaking a massive regeneration programme and needed to ensure the widest possible public involvement with its diverse communities. In the case of Barking Riverside, it wanted to find innovative ways of creating a large new community without losing the existing communities and doing so in a way that involved the communities both now and in the future. In TURAS the LBBD also worked with the Environment Agency for Brussels; BIC Lazio and the Municipality of Rome. In addition it co-produced some community material with Dublin City Council. Its involvement in TURAS enabled it to expand and accelerate its cross-disciplinary working, both within and beyond the municipality. This was especially helpful in the context of GI and community engagement.

In the River Quaggy, the original plan was to further raise the existing walls, however, this would have resulted in the loss of a large number of well-established trees (NWRM, no date). There was large local resistance to this approach and a strong political and local desire for a (more natural) flood storage solution rather than concrete channels.

Monitoring and evaluation: 

The London Plan has a plan-monitor-manage process to track the overall direction of its associated policies, with a monitoring report based on 24 key performance indicators produced annually (GLA, 2016). These indicators include: minimising the loss of open space; increasing urban greening (increasing the total area of green roofs in the CAZ); reducing carbon emissions; protecting biodiversity habitat (no net loss of designated Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation) and improving London’s Blue Ribbon Network (restoring 15 km of rivers and streams in 2009 - 2015 and an additional 10 km by 2020). The report on encouraging nature in new housing development suggests that the Mayor should request that all developments share ecological data with Greenspace Information for Greater London after a development is completed (London Assembly, 2017).

In the River Quaggy, a number of parameters were monitored during different stages of the scheme (NWRM, no date). Prior to construction, 11 baseline surveys were carried out including surveys of riverine flora, trees, bats, fish, invertebrates, birds and mammals to inform designs in progress and enable the process of environmental impact assessment. Water quality and sediment sampling was also undertaken and socioeconomic surveys carried out after the completion of the scheme to monitor visitor numbers to the park storage.

In the TURAS London case studies there was a lot of monitoring, as it is one of the solutions to understanding how to plan and deliver GI. For example, in the Thames Gateway, TURAS used the Natural England monitoring system on habitats on brownfield sites to identify which habitats were present or absent and then to see how they could be incorporated into green roofs and landscape design (Connop pers. comm.). They found that ephemeral wetland sites were missing so they tried experimenting on green roofs at Barking Riverside and the University of East London, by raising one side of the roof 25 mm or 50 mm and creating wetter areas, with raising one side by 50 mm leading to some permanent areas of water. Monitoring was also an important part of the development of the brownfield site habitats in Barking Riverside (Connop et al., 2014).

Impacts of EU research and innovation projects : 

For the GLA, involvement in TURAS provided an opportunity to think about how to ensure landscape design for urban regeneration can be done using more ecological/NBS approaches when starting with a blank canvas, with Barking Riverside as a good example. Outputs from TURAS have informed the Housing and Land Team and they would like to encourage other boroughs to recognise the important work that has be done at Barking Riverside and how work e.g. on green roofs could be transferred. There have been discussions with RAMSES (Richard Dawson) to see how the work on NBS for water management could be applied in London. The GLA is, through the Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), linked to other cities, although it is difficult to keep up with all that is going on and to find the time to participate more actively. The GLA is also involved in a Horizon 2020 NBS bid in conjunction with Milan and Hamburg. It is also involved with Groundwork (London) in Fulham in retrofitting climate change adaptation measures to a housing estate.

The report on incorporating nature into housing developments cites TURAS and Barking Riverside as an example of getting GI into a development (London Assembly, 2017) and the London Infrastructure Plan 2050 (Mayor of London, 2015) cites Barking Riverside as an example of major regeneration good practice.

The NWRM project, in which the River Quaggy was a case study, was led by the Office International de l’Eau (OIEau), in consortium with Actéon Environment (France), AMEC Foster Wheeler (United Kingdom), BEF (Baltic States), ENVECO (Sweden), IACO (Cyprus/Greece), IMDEA Water (Spain), REC (Hungary/Central & Eastern Europe), REKK inc. (Hungary), SLU (Sweden) and SRUC (UK) for DG Environment.

Public Health England has a Healthy New Towns project to look at mental health issues and Barking Riverside has been chosen as one of the pilots. A new H2020 Innovation Action, CONNECTING, is built on the findings of TURAS and the University of East London is involved in an academy to train people in GI, bringing examples from London and other cities, as well as the CIC experience.

The benefits of TURAS are a new approach to problem solving; a realisation that working on resilience and sustainability is not doing more with less but achieving the result by doing things differently. TURAS has been invaluable in terms of engaging with organisations across Europe in discussing problems and finding solutions. The mix of public sector authorities, universities and private sector organisations has been critical and the learnings and tools resulting from TURAS (as well as the networks) will be useful for the long term (Harley and Sinclair, no date).

Drawing up the case studies (e.g. Barking Riverside) enabled the LBBD to consolidate the knowledge that it had about how processes really worked. Other TURAS case studies and tools — e.g. the interactive timeline, ‘join the dots,’ community funding as well as the set of tools around urban green infrastructure are also of use. In addition, since the inception of the TURAS programme, LBBD has gone on to found its own energy company in order to bring cheaper and more efficient sources of energy to its residents. While these measures are not directly caused by TURAS, its influence has been material.

TURAS is feeding into the local development framework and fed directly into the environmental impact statement for the revised planning application for Barking Riverside. TURAS is also influencing the development of the Community Interest Company which will manage the infrastructure and running of Barking Riverside as it is built out.

Sources and further information: 

Connop, S. and Nash, C. (2016) Ecomimicry for Barking Riverside: Achieving locally contextualised biodiversity-led multifunctional urban green infrastructure. University of East London. Available from: www.turas-cities.org/uploads/biblio/document/file/669/BR_ecomimicry.pdf

Connop, S., Clough, J. and Nash, C. (2016) Multidisciplinary urban landscape design guidelines: Barking Riverside green infrastructure opportunities. London: University of East London. Available from: http://www.turas-cities.org/uploads/biblio/document/file/670/BR_general_...

Connop, S. Lindsay, R., Freeman, J, Clough, J., Kadas, G. and Nash, C. (2014) TURAS multidisciplinary urban landscape design guidance: Design, incorporation and monitoring of Barking Riverside brownfield landscaping. University of East London,

London, UK. Available from: http://www.turas-cities.org/uploads/milestone/file/11/TURAS_multidisciplinary_urban_landscape_design_guidance_Final1.pdf

Connop, S. (2012) The Beetle Bump: innovative urban habitat creation for rare insects. Essex Naturalist 29, 108-113.

Cross River Partnership (2016) Green Capital. Green Infrastructure for a future city. Available from: https://crossriverpartnership.org/media/2016/03/CRP-8779-Green-Brochure-...

GLA (2016) The London Plan: Spatial Development Strategy for London. Consolidated with Alterations. Greater London Authority, London, UK. Available from: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/london-plan/current-london-plan/london-plan-2016-pdf

GLA (2015) Natural Capital Investing in a Green Infrastructure for a Future London. Green Infrastructure Task Force Report. Available from: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/gitaskforcereport.hyperlin...

GLA (2012) Green Infrastructure and Open Environments: The All London Green Grid. Available from: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/algg_spg_mar2012.pdf

GLA (2011a) The London Plan: Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London. Greater London Authority, London, UK. Available from: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/london-plan/past-versions-...

GLA (2011b) Managing risks and increasing resilience: the Mayor’s climate change adaptation strategy. Greater London Authority (GLA), London, UK. Available from: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/gla_migrate_files_destinat...

GLA (2011c) Securing London’s water future, The Mayor’s Water Strategy. Greater London Authority, London. Available from: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/gla_migrate_files_destinat...

GLA (2010) Clearing the air, The Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy. Greater London Authority, London.GLA Leading to a greener London: An environment programme for the capital. Greater London Authority, London, UK. Available from: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/air_quality_strategy_v3.pdf

GLA (2009) London Regional Flood Risk Appraisal, Greater London Authority, London, UK. Available from: https://www.london.gov.uk/file/1072/download?token=DJloydSf

GLA (2008), Living Roofs and Walls, Technical Report: Supporting London Plan Policy, Greater London Authority, London. Available from: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/living-roofs.pdf

Harley, D. and Sinclair, J. (no date) TURAS Impact Statement, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

Lindberg, F. and Grimmond, C.S.B. (2011) Nature of vegetation and building morphology characteristics across a city: Influence on shadow patterns and mean radiant temperatures in London. Urban Ecosystems, 14, 617. doi:10.1007/s11252-011-0184-5

London Assembly (2017) At Home with Nature. Encouraging biodiversity in new housing developments. Available from: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/at_home_with_nature_- encouraging_biodiversity_in_new_housing_developments.pdf

Mayor of London (2015) London Infrastructure Plan 2050 — update. Available from: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/business-and-economy/better-infrastructure/london-infrastructure-plan-2050#acc-i-43211

Nash, C., Clough, J., Gedge, D., Lindsay, R., Newport, D., Ciupala, M.A. and Connop, S. (2016) Initial insights on the biodiversity potential of biosolar roofs: a London Olympic Park green roof case study. Israel Journal of Ecology & Evolution, 62. Available from: http://www.turas-cities.org/uploads/biblio/document/file/550/Biosolar_gr...

NWRM project (no date) Case Study De-culverting London. Available from: http://nwrm.eu/case-study/restoring-river-quaggy-london-uk

Tallis, M., Taylor, G., Sinnett, D. and Freer-Smith, P. (2011) Estimating the removal of atmospheric particulate pollution by the urban tree canopy of London, under current and future environments. Landscape and Urban Planning, 103, 129-138. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S01 69204611002349

UEL (2014) Beetle Bump Case Study. Available from: https://www.buglife.org.uk/sites/default/files/UEL%20beetle%20bump,%20London.pdf

BRIDGE, RAMSES and TURAS Project Deliverables including:

BRIDGE (2009) Sustainable Urban Planning in London. COP meeting.

Contacts: 

Peter Massini, Principal Policy & Programme Officer, Green Infrastructure Development, Greater London Authority