The benefits of plants are diverse and planting schemes can play a significant role in reducing local authority expenditure across a number of areas. Whilst there is general acknowledgement of their aesthetic appeal there is comprehensive scientific evidence that plants mitigate flooding, capture carbon, reduce stress levels, improve patient recovery times, reduce crime and improve property prices. For this reason, and whilst supporting the move to decentralisation, the HTA is pushing for the role of plants to be acknowledged nationally and enshrined in the provisions of the new National Planning Framework.
Commenting on the Bill HTA Director General David Gwyther said, “We welcome any effort to remove unnecessary red tape and bureaucratic burden and we also support the shift to empowering civic groups and individuals to involve themselves in the planning decisions taken to improve the communities in which they live and work. The emergence of Neighbourhood Plans and the Community Infrastructure Levy should provide the strategy and resources for more green infrastructure across the country.
He adds, “Our industry also has an important role to play in the Prime Minister’s vision for the Big Society which seeks to drive forward the localism agenda. Garden centres are increasingly being seen as community hubs because of their pleasant environment, good hospitality facilities, events they run, charity involvement and their local engagement on sourcing and with schools. It seems to us that garden centres might have an important role to play in helping to mobilise and deliver credible new local community initiatives, and in establishing and migrating good practice in these right across the country.”