Creating planning-compliant and multipurpose grassed surface

Government guidelines on green infrastructure, together with stringent planning restrictions that require permeable surfaces to protect against flooding, can prove to be headscratchers for planners developing spaces for public authorities. Here, we look at the benefits of a SuDS-compliant grass protection system that allows grassy areas to double up as a temporary parking solution, retaining a softer aesthetic while reinforcing the grass to allow for parking.

What are the planning considerations?

The UK government has outlined that public authorities in England, such as local authorities, government departments, utility companies and NHS Trusts, have a duty to conserve biodiversity in their decision making. This includes incorporating green infrastructure, namely spaces and assets that provide environmental and broader benefits. It includes, for example, parks, playing fields, other areas of open space and woodland. While planning green infrastructure when developing sites can prove difficult when space is limited, there’s good reason to incorporate it, not least enhanced wellbeing, enhanced biodiversity, and flood risk management.

Developers need to consider the National Planning Policy Framework when planning green infrastructure, taking into account rainwater management through SuDS-compliant systems. Green infrastructure requirements should be considered in the early stages of development proposals, as they form an integral part of development and infrastructure. Considering natural assets and incorporating them into plans, such as existing grassy areas, can help identify the most suitable locations and types of green infrastructure. But planners should also consider dual-purpose green areas, such as reinforced lawns, that can serve as overflow or temporary parking when space is limited, yet form part of a development’s green infrastructure. What’s more, grassy areas can achieve biodiversity net gain, even when reinforced with a grass protection system.

What is SuDS?

Sustainable Drainage Systems, or SuDS, manage rainfall by replicating natural drainage, protecting areas against local flooding. Where possible, rainfall should drain away close to where it falls. In natural environments, rain falls on permeable surfaces and soaks into the ground in a process known as infiltration. However, in urban areas where surfaces may be sealed by buildings or paving, this natural infiltration is limited. Instead, drainage networks divert surface water to local watercourses. Sometimes, this has resulted in downstream flooding and deterioration in river water quality when sewers are overwhelmed by surface water.

Permeable surfaces that allow rainwater to drain away easily helps solve local flooding issues. Yet finding surface options that provide the benefits of permeability with the robustness of hard landscaping can seem limited. An option that meets green infrastructure objectives while providing a usable space for parking is by reinforcing grass with a grass protection system.

What is a grass protection system?

Incorporating practicalities into green infrastructure can be an excellent solution when space is at a premium. Yet multipurpose surfaces can prove a tricky brief. When a client requests a surface that sometimes needs to be used for parking and at other times needs to blend seamlessly into a landscaping scheme, the options can appear limited. Grassrings provide a permanent solution to create parking on grass without ruining the grass. Flexible modules clip together over a suitable stone sub-base. Once backfilled with soil and seeded, they provide long-term reinforcement and stabilisation. The unique open grid design allows a root development area where roots can grow laterally for grass to thrive because they still have access to air, moisture, and nutrients.

Using Grassrings on public sector projects

Council-owned sites can create versatile spaces with Grassrings. For example, grassy areas around council-run leisure centres, NHS properties and other facilities where there can be overwhelming demand for parking, can double up as overflow parking space by laying Grassrings, without compromising permeability or causing planning issues. Grassrings-reinforced grassed spaces also provide an alternative, flexible solution to tarmac and other hard surfacing in areas where local flooding is a risk.

Using Grassrings on private sector projects

It’s not just public authorities that can benefit from using Grassrings to create SuDs-compliant surfaces. Private clients, such as event spaces, venues, hotels, golf courses, and other commercial locations, can achieve temporary access areas or overflow car parking without sacrificing grass quality with Grassrings. Grassy areas can be transformed into coach parking in peak seasons, complete with parking bay markers that clip directly onto the grid system. Caravan parks can create a permeable surface that’s more attractive than other hard landscaping options when covering a large area that can also withstand the weight of vehicles.

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