Green infrastructure elements are parks, open spaces, trees, including street trees, play areas, woods, private gardens, allotments, community orchards and gardens. Blue infrastructure refers to water features, including ponds, lakes, streams, rivers and storm water provision swales, raingardens, wetlands and canals and their banks. Green and blue infrastructure is a combination of the existence of naturally occurring landscape elements and designed interventions that work together to perform functional roles that also provides multiple sustainability benefits.

Our places can be designed or adapted to introduce or enhance green and blue infrastructure which can perform multiple essential functions in our streets and urban spaces and in the countryside. These include; the soaking away of surface water, the continuation of a corridor for nature and biodiversity to thrive, the absorption of pollution, shading and cooling of spaces. Each of these interventions plays a role in increasing the attractiveness of a place and increasing over all levels of wellbeing for those living in or experiencing that place. They help to build resilience within communities to climate change related weather events while helping to halt the loss of biodiversity.

Green and blue infrastructure needs to be thought about at every scale of planning, from the strategic framework (allowing cross boundary issues to be considered) right down through neighbourhoods and within streets to the individual homes, planning from first principles where the infrastructure could be added to or improved upon. Measures can be retrospectively added to a place but it is also important to consider how green and blue infrastructure can be designed as an integral part of new developments from the outset, ensuring proposals contribute positively and are designed to link into the localised ‘network’ of green and blue infrastructure and the wider strategic framework.  At a local level, the decisions we make as householders and individuals can contribute positively or negatively to the ability of the network of green and blue infrastructures to cope with weather events. Removing trees/hedges in favour of fencing for example or removing grass in favour of synthetic or impenetrable alternatives can effectively compromise the function of the overall network, shifting problems elsewhere.

Through the use of place based approaches, where communities are involved in the planning of their places, it is possible to engender a deeper appreciation of the important role played by green and blue infrastructure beyond the basic need for parks and spaces for recreation. We can change future outcomes with cooperative, design led, people centred and place based approaches that hold nature in high regard.