We are delighted to announce the launch of the Green Spaces Advisory Board (GSAB), a pioneering cross industry collaboration of Ground Control and seven leading housing associations: Peabody, Home Group, Notting Hill Genesis, Orbit, Clarion, Futures Housing Group and Network Homes.

As we saw from reactions to COP26, there is an urgent need to do more to tackle climate change. Housing can play a significant role in this. GSAB partners will include housing associations, developers, scientific groups and environmental bodies. GSAB is about making change and so it is a time-limited group working together to produce open-source tools, share best practice relating to green space management, and models for green placemaking, carbon offsetting and biodiversity enhancement to empower the housing sector and the communities it supports on the journey to net zero in a post COVID-19 era.

PeabodyHome GroupNotting Hill GenesisOrbitClarionFutures Housing Group and Network Homes have a shared ambition to create sustainable green communities that maximise return on investment in green assets and help the next generation of residents to reap the benefits of their natural world.

Ria Bailes, Senior Social Housing Advisor at Ground Control and Chair of GSAB commented:

The Green Spaces Advisory Board was founded on the principle that, by working together to ‘green’ our communities, we can maximise the value of nature within the context of climate change, placemaking and resident wellbeing. When it comes to the sustainability agenda housing stock is front and centre for housing associations, but we also have vast areas of open space and trees we can bring to bear. This puts the social housing sector in a unique position to accelerate action to improve biodiversity and promote carbon capture.

Nusheen Hussain, Home Group and a founding member of GSAB board commented:

The scale of the environmental challenge means that we must move forwards together if we are to tackle the issues effectively and at scale. The Green Spaces Advisory Board signals our commitment to work together as a sector to support the reversal of nature’s decline, to enhance biodiversity and to empower residents to fully realise the wider societal benefits green spaces provide.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of foundation green initiatives that the Green Spaces Advisory Board will deliver:

  • Develop a 2-year action plan in response to the Green Communities Report
  • Share green space best practice across the housing sector and beyond
  • Develop and share ways to help residents learn about, and engage with, green space, biodiversity, and environmental sustainability
  • Design a Green Space Model – detailing how housing associations can utilise green assets to help achieve net zero
  • Lead the development of a single, independently verifiable biodiversity metric and certification program for land under management.

Members of GSAB will meet quarterly. At the inaugural meeting in November one of the first actions was to agree a pathway for the development of a single, verifiable biodiversity metric and for the creation of a green space best practice forum accessible by the wider industry. This includes sharing an understanding of typical environmental sustainability pathways, existing blockers for green space enhancement, resident engagement best practice, along with consideration around inclusivity, accessibility, health & safety, and ongoing maintenance.