Photo: Remuslt via Flickr: CC BY-SA 2.0 Garth Park Bicester UK ">
  • 11 December 2015

ECI wins NERC Green Infrastructure Innovation funding

The Environmental Change Institute (ECI), University of Oxford has won funding from NERC to help plan new networks of green infrastructure (GI) in and around Bicester. Green infrastructure, such as parks, street trees and water features, can provide a range of benefits including flood protection, carbon storage, space for recreation and habitat for wildlife, but it is increasingly under threat from development. This project will develop simple, practical tools and guidance to help local councils identify opportunities for adding new or enhancing existing green infrastructure, and evaluate the benefits of these investments.

This project is driven by the needs of Cherwell District Council, who are responsible for planning GI in Bicester. The town is set to double in size over the next 20 years, which will place pressure on existing GI – already being lost to infill development – but provides opportunities to create large areas of high-quality GI within the new developments, which include the UK’s first eco-town in NW Bicester. The council needs tools to help them plan how to link existing GI with the new GI and the wider countryside, creating connected networks for wildlife and people. They also need to map supply and demand for GI, such as the distance from housing to the nearest green space, to ensure that benefits are delivered in the areas where they are most needed.

Working closely with local planners and other stakeholders, the ECI and partners - Forest Research - will compile a toolbox of existing methods that can be used to plan and evaluate GI, and develop clear step-by-step guidance to help users select and apply the best tools to meet their needs. The tools will include simple models as well as participatory approaches allowing the views and values of local stakeholders to be taken into account in the planning process. We will apply this approach to developing a GI Plan for Bicester, and we will also test the tools and guidance with potential future users in other local authorities to ensure that it can be applied more widely. By enabling planners, developers and green space managers to identify well-targeted cost-effective options for improving the GI network, we expect our project to have a significant impact in Bicester and beyond.

Project information

Project: Tools for planning and evaluating green infrastructure – Bicester and beyond

ECI researchers: Pam Berry, Alison Smith, Rob Dunford and Paula Harrison

Partners: Kieron Doick and Darren Moseley at Forest Research.

Stakeholders: Cherwell District Council; Bioregional; Oxfordshire County Council; Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership; Bicester Town Council; Wild Oxfordshire; BBOWT (wildlife trust); A2Dominion (Bicester eco-town developer); Ecosystems Knowledge Network; Green Infrastructure Partnership; Environment Agency; South Downs National Park Authority; Mersey Forest.

Contact: For further information about this project please contact: Dr Pam Berry or Alison Smith.

This project will develop simple, practical tools and guidance to help local councils identify opportunities for adding new or enhancing existing green infrastructure

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