In order to meet these increasing environmental pressures while also meeting future growth demands, the six local authorities of South Essex have formed a union to create a revolutionary Joint Spatial Plan for this vulnerable area covering some 70,000 hectares. The Green and Blue Infrastructure (GBI) Study will form a crucial part of the spatial plan and will help to prepare the community for the future by addressing ecological, economic, and social susceptibilities that exist today.
The need for an integrated and cross-boundary GBI strategy has been recognised as a priority to steer local plans, to support healthier communities, sustainable travel, and high-quality open spaces, while also protecting habitats and natural processes throughout all development.
But more than simply incorporating these good design practices, the South Essex GBI Study raises the bar for landscape planning and sets an ambitious vision for living infrastructure that presents one unifying framework: a porous infrastructure that allows for adaptation of large-scale areas of landscape that will transform due to sea-level rise, increased flooding and other climate-induced change.
South Essex is reimagined as a single and vast parkland system referred to as South Essex Estuary Park (SEE Park), which shows great commitment to not only protecting what already exists, but to what South Essex will be in the future.
The establishment of SEE Park also fits into a wider plan set out in the Thames Estuary Growth Commission's 2050 Vision for the creation of the Great Thames Park. The Study sets out how SEE Park could become the first phase. The concept of living within a parkland setting, next to a great metropolitan centre, presents an attractive offer for investment, accommodating homes and businesses with plentiful cultural and leisure activities. This GBI Study identifies the importance of a business plan to communicate, educate, brand, market and provide continued research to convey the vision and to provide the necessary backing to turn the SEE Park vision into a reality.
The South Essex Green and Blue Infrastructure Study presents a radical vision of how the planning process can boldly utilise GBI to meet the challenges of our time. This study creates an exemplary model of adaptable and resilient infrastructure, not only for South Essex and London, but for other estuary communities around the world.
South Essex Green and Blue Infrastructure Study
South Essex, UK
Research, documentation and publication
Alexandra Steed Urban
Brentwood Borough Council/Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA)
LI Awards 2020 Finalist - Excellence in Landscape Planning and Assessment; LI Awards 2020 Finalist - Excellence in Tackling Climate Change
Client: Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) Project Team: Prior + Partners JAM Consult Green Infrastructure Consultancy