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Urban Green Factor – new targets set by the upcoming London Plan

November 2018

Amongst the many ambitious policies within the upcoming London Plan, the integration of the Urban Greening Factor (UGF) sets out the Mayor’s plan to follow the vein of Berlin and Malmö in facilitating the growth of green space within the capital. UGF places an emphasis on human wellbeing and the multifunctionality (ecosystem services) of green spaces over what has traditionally been an ecological approach.

 

Where has this stemmed from?

Green Infrastructure and green space has been proven to provide measurable net positive impacts on both physical health and mental wellbeing. It is also recognised that green infrastructure will play an essential role in increasing London’s resilience to future rises in temperature and precipitation augmented by climate change.

The original idea stems from Berlin where the ‘Biotop Flächenfaktor’ or Biotope Area Factor (BAF) has been in operation since 1994; the BAF ensures that adequate green space is provided within new development proposals. BAF targets are adjusted according to land use, with educational sites, for example, requiring the highest scores. Benefits of external urban greening include those associated with biophilia for human health and wellbeing, as well as more broader ecosystem services.

 

Examples of biophilia (green wall) and ecosystem services (SUDS – bioswale)

 

What Does it Mean?

The required amount of green cover for new development will be significantly increased, whereby all new development in London will be required to meet a threshold ratio which takes into account the size and the biodiverse value of the green space incorporated against the total site area, when the new London Plan becomes adopted. The table below provides an example of the calculation process; with this example achieving a UGF of 0.33.

 

1.   MEASURE SITE AREA, MEASURE VARIOUS SURFACE COVER TYPES
 

2.   CALCULATE THE SITE SCORE

Factor

Area (m2) Factor x Area

UGF

Extensive Green Roof

0.7

21

14.7

Sealed Surfaces

0.0

38

0.0
Amenity Grassland

0.4

36

14.4

Trees in minimum of 25m3 soil volume

0.8

5

4.0

100

33.1

0.33

Urban Green Factor Calculation methodology (Image from The Ecology Consultancy)

 

What will we have to do?

Green infrastructure will become an integral part of the concept design process with early consideration vital so as to avoid a costly retrofit design overhaul. With the clamor for roof space at an all-time high due to mechanical plant, renewable technologies as well as a desire for chic amenity space, the fight for adequate space and light to incorporate green space becomes all the more problematic. This may force designers to look vertically in order to fit in the adequate m2 required to achieved the recommend UGF value.

Examples of Urban Greening (Arup, Wild West End)

 

What will the targets be?

The Mayor has recommended a target score of 0.4 for residentially-led developments, and a target score of 0.3 for developments that are predominately commercial. However, each borough will determine their own UGF rating to be applied with the likelihood that this will be further broken down into segments, where areas  starved of green space are expected to achieve a higher UGF rating, as well as areas in which councils are looking to expand and develop green corridors.

 

Please contact XCO2 for further information on how to integrate Green Infrastructure into your development for Resilient, Environmental design and Ecological Benefit, and to meet the new London Plan targets.

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