Green infrastructure (GI) is globally recognised as an essential component of liveable and sustain- able places. It is valued for its multifunctionality and the connectedness of the individual features to each other, the surrounding countryside and urban populations. It brings together many land uses (e.g. parks, gardens, cemeteries, allotments, nature reserves, surface water), urban design (e.g. street trees, landscaping) and functional features (e.g. sustainable urban drainage systems, green roofs) operating at differing spatial scales. It is widely acknowledged that GI is the primary mechanism for delivering ecosystem services in towns and cities, and there is a substantial body of research demonstrating the multiple benefits of GI to urban populations. Despite this evidence base, there is still considerable uncertainty about the best way to design, deliver and maintain GI. This paper presents an emerging benchmark that has been developed through a combination of literature review and engagement with key stakeholders. It provides a suite of standards that are flexible enough to be used across different spatial scales depending on the specific needs of the location, covering the form and function of GI including nature conservation, water management, health and well-being, environmental and design quality. It allows an assessment of GI policy, and the planning, design, delivery and long-term management of GI in new and existing places, ensuring that current good practice is adopted at all stages. The development of the benchmark to date is summarised along with the outcome of preliminary testing using the outline planning applications for two contrasting mixed-use developments. This found that the benchmark per- formed well, with standards set at a level to ensure that high-quality GI is rewarded but without requiring a level of GI provision and quality that would only be expected on truly exemplary developments. Plans for the future development and testing of the benchmark are provided.
biodiversity, ecosystem services, green infrastructure, green spaces, sustainable urban drainage, urban planning
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