Green priority

Local authorities need to give priority to using green space creatively to reduce the impacts from climate change on towns and cities, according to analysis of new case studies from CABE Space. This has its own economic impact, reducing the billions of pounds spent on the increasing need to repair flood damage in the UK, as well as environmental and social benefits.

The case studies illustrate how adapting public spaces to the impacts of climate change has helped towns and cities respond to the seasonal problems of flooding, water shortage and rising temperatures, for instance by storing rainwater to keep trees green in summer and so moderating the urban heat island effect.

One study features the River Quaggy in south London, which has been brought back up to the surface from being piped, allowing it to flood in high rainfall onto its natural plain and now provides attractive parkland for locals.

Nicola Mathers, CABE Space management advisor, said: ‘It is crucial to alter the way that the urban environment is planned if we are to reduce the impacts of global warming. In 2007 the UK spent £36bn on flood damage – some of this could be better spent on green space designed to lessen this damage by creating natural defence systems, like flood plain forests. We need local authorities to think ahead to the different climate of 2020 and beyond, and be aware of the long term cost of inadequate investment in public space.’

The first four case studies are available at:

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