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Planning and building

Green Infrastructure Guidance

Green infrastructure (GI) has been defined as “A strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features, designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services, while also enhancing biodiversity.”

Such services include, for example, water purification, improving air quality, providing space for recreation, as well as helping with climate mitigation and adaptation.

According to the European Commission, this network of green (land) and blue (water) spaces improves the quality of the environment, the condition and connectivity of natural areas, as well as improving citizens’ health and quality of life. Developing green infrastructure can also support a green economy and create job opportunities.

GI assets are of a great variety and span various spatial scales and include:

  • woodland and urban trees
  • watercourses
  • highway verges and railway embankments
  • parks, playgrounds, allotments and other public open spaces
  • farmland and market gardens
  • private gardens
  • the grounds of hospitals, schools and business parks
  • sport pitches and recreational areas

See more information about:

The function of green infrastructure

Green infrastructure performs multiple functions, some of the most important being:

  • biodiversity and geodiversity – providing habitats for wildlife
  • access and recreation – places for sports, play, walking and cycling
  • health and wellbeing – supporting healthy lifestyles
  • air quality
  • trees, woodland and forestry – providing habitats for wildlife, recreational opportunities, urban cooling, and an economic resource
  • agriculture – providing food and other crops
  • energy – providing an energy resource using biomass, hydro-electric and wind power
  • landscape – helping to define the character of different types of landscape
  • townscape – making towns and villages better places in which to live
  • water management – water supply, quality and flood control
  • economic development – supporting the economy by improving the image and 'liveability' of places
  • climate change – providing climate resilience and carbon capture.

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York’s GI Ambition

Protecting and enhancing York’s natural environment is a key influence and delivery mechanism in the Council’s 10-year strategies and York 2032: 10-year plan.

York’s natural environment is a key component for meeting the city’s requirements for climate change, particularly relating to our Climate Emergency which set an ambition for York to be a net-zero carbon city by 2030.

The Council Plan also prioritises sustainability through cutting carbon and enhancing the environment for our future.

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Planning Policy Context

National policies for conserving and enhancing the natural environment are set out in The National Planning Policy Framework; and Planning Practice Guidance for the Natural Environment.

Our emerging new Local Plan provides the overarching policies for Green Infrastructure (GI) delivery through development at the local level. This recognises the importance of delivering, protecting and enhancing GI to deliver a multifunctional network that is varied in typology and size to provide biodiverse infrastructure that is connected for nature, accessible for all and responds to the local character.

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Biodiversity Net Gain

Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is a way of creating and improving natural habitats. BNG makes sure development and/or land management has a measurably positive impact (‘net gain’) on biodiversity, compared to what was beforehand.

The emerging new Local Planrequires, under policy GI2 ‘Biodiversity and Access to Nature’, the delivery of BNG in accordance with the Environment Act 2021. The National Planning Policy Framework (paragraph 180b) requires net gain to be achieved in a measurable way. Government guidance to implement the National Planning Policy Framework also includes information on net gain (paragraphs 20 to 28).

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Environment Act Requirements

In England, biodiversity net gain (BNG) is becoming mandatory under Schedule 7A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as inserted by Schedule 14 of the Environment Act 2021).

Developers must deliver a minimum biodiversity net gain of 10%. This means a development will result in more or better quality natural habitat than there was before development contributing towards reducing the current loss of biodiversity through development and enhancing the restoration of ecological networks from 12th February 2024.

See Further information of our Biodiversity Net Gain Planning Policy Guidance.

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Local Nature Recovery Strategy

City of York Council is working in partnership with North Yorkshire Council as the Responsible Authority to produce a Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS).
The Local Nature Recovery Strategy will consider land at a county scale and will identify locations to improve nature and provide other benefits, such as capturing carbon from the atmosphere, flood regulation and access to nature-rich spaces where this is most needed for health and wellbeing.

The Local Nature Recovery Strategy will:

  • agree priorities for nature's recovery, such as increasing woodland cover or creating wetlands
  • map the most valuable existing areas for nature
  • map specific proposals for creating and improving habitat for nature and wider environmental goals

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LNRS Consultation

We need your help to prepare our Local Nature Recovery Strategy for North Yorkshire and York and want to know more about:

  • why you care for nature
  • your thoughts on wildlife species
  • whether you have seen examples of local projects to restore or protect nature

The consultation closed on Monday 12 February.

See our Local Nature Recovery Strategy webpage for further information and updates.

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Background to LNRS

As required by law under the Environment Act 2021, every county in England will produce a Local Nature Recovery Strategy. These strategies will work together to restore, create and connect habitats across England.

Decisions about where and how to recover nature will be reached through consultation with a wide range of people and groups in each county, from ecologists and community groups to health professionals and local businesses.

For more information on the LNRS, see our Local Nature Recovery Strategy webpage hosted by North Yorkshire Council.

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Pollinator strategy

We’re taking action to make York more pollinator friendly. See further information on York’s Pollinator Strategy, which seeks to ensure local residents, businesses and landowners are provided with information, to help protect and increase the numbers of insects that play a part in pollination of our native wild plants and our food crops, such as bumblebees, butterflies and beetles.

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Also see

Waste, Highways and Environmental Services

Telephone: 01904 551551