The launch of the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan put the role of landscape professionals under the spotlight, with Prime Minister Theresa May turning to the industry to take the lead on delivering the ambitions the government has set out.

The 150-page document outlines how the government plans to help the natural world regain and retain good health. Broken down into six key focus areas it provides an overview of how the government aims to deliver cleaner air and water in cities and rural landscapes, protect threatened species and provide richer wildlife habitats.

Mathew Haslam, Managing Director of Hardscape, reflects on how the supply chain has a crucial role to play in helping the government meet these ambitious aspirations.

“Hardscape is committed to supporting the natural world in the UK and beyond. From our sustainable and ethical sourcing of materials, cutting edge permeable paving solutions which support flood management, to our involvement in acclaimed landscaping projects which have helped to connect more people to the natural environment and bring about tangible wellbeing benefits to local communities.”

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems

Asil Besim, Hardscape’s Technical Manager, said: “Reducing the risk of flooding is a key focus of the plan with the government looking towards an increase in the uptake of sustainable drainage systems. We have been championing the use of permeable paving for many years and with sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) now firmly on the government’s agenda, we expect to see these products increasingly come to the fore.”

Unique to Hardscape, DrainJoint allows for any material, be it natural stone, clay, concrete or our even our popular Kellen range, to be laid as a permeable paving system and removes the need for pavers to carry nibs or extension and the requirement for large aggregate joints.

Developed in the Netherlands, the product was designed to be easy to use, have little or no maintenance requirements and be a cost effective SuDS solution, whilst preserving the beauty of the paving material.

A fantastic example of this product in practice is a courtyard and roof terrace development in Paul Street, Shoreditch. Hardscape worked with TPM Landscape Architects and Maclaren Construction to supply Kellen Lavaro Wit, Grijs and Oranje paving with Drainjoint to create a paving scheme with enhanced drainage features without compromise to the striking and stylish design.

The Cathedral Quarter in Blackburn also used permeable paving to superb effect. Granite was laid permeable using a wide joint free flowing aggregate system to create a finished scheme, which seamlessly merged old and new enhancing the area’s historic backdrop.

Kellen Green Paving is another example of how innovative and sustainable approaches to product design can tackle the flood risk issue. Incorporating greenery into a paving layout not only creates a standout visual effect, but also helps to accelerate water dispersion and cool urban spaces (due to the water evaporation process). The finished effect is a scheme which promotes wellness and supports sustainable approaches to tackle excess surface water, whilst aiding accessibility.

Enabling positive relationships with the natural world

Asil Besim further adds: “From the technical detail of our leading product ranges, to the widespread positive benefits of spaces that connect people and promote wellbeing, Hardscape is proud to play a role in enabling more positive relationships with the natural world.”

The 25-year plan underlines a wide-reaching commitment to connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing. This includes connecting people with green spaces to improve mental health, giving children greater access to nature and creating a Natural Environment for Health and Wellbeing programme.

The Connswater Community Greenway project in Belfast, which Hardscape supplied, epitomises many of these key action points that the government is trying to achieve.

A vision that took ten years to come to fruition, Connswater Community Greenway is a ground-breaking 9km linear park which follows the course of the Connswater, Knock and Loop Rivers in the east of the city. The £40 million project has provided vibrant and accessible parkland for leisure, recreation, community events and activities.

Anthony McGuigan, CMLI from The Paul Hogarth Company, comments: “Connswater Community Greenway is a visionary regeneration project which inexplicably demonstrates the power of green infrastructure. The project spanned many years and it is thanks to the commitment and vision of all stakeholders, contractors and suppliers that the end result has had such a dramatic impact.

Hard landscape materials were a particularly important element and The Paul Hogarth Company consulted with Hardscape Ireland for geological, technical and ethical advice for natural stone materials. Over the construction period they provided considerable expertise regarding the stone and its uncomplicated delivery on time to correct specification via their demonstrable ethical supply chain, not to mention some spectacular Artscape features.”

Tangible wellbeing benefits

Sammy Douglas, former East Belfast MLA and Trustee of the Connswater Community Greenway, adds: “What makes this project really stand out are the results of a multidisciplinary study (PARC study) which reviewed the potential health impacts of the scheme if those living nearby were more likely to partake in physical activity because of its development. It also considered the development cost against the projected health benefits of the population. The study developed a model based on responses to a questionnaire and concluded that if just 2% of people living nearby the Greenway who are currently inactive did at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity as a result of the development, over 40 years, then a total of 184 new cases of chronic diseases and 17 deaths could be prevented.”

Glenn Bradley, who manages Hardscape’s operations in Ireland and the Company’s Ethical Supply Chain, commented: “The results are compelling and we were proud to have a long-standing involvement in the project, providing consultation and supplying material for phases one and two. I am confident that it is an example of best practice that will be held up for years to come and will have the far-reaching health benefits that the government is aspiring to.”

Concluding, Mathew Haslam states: “At Hardscape we continue to innovate and drive forward with innovative solutions to both specific projects and wider societal concerns. We look forward to working with the landscaping community to help bring about the positive change outlined in the government’s ambitious plan.”

For more information about Hardscape’s involvement in the Connswater Community Greenway view the full case study here or to find out more about Hardscape’s green paving product range click here.

For more information about the PARC study visit: