However, most people are getting in their cars to drive to these places of outstanding beauty. Not the greatest mode of transport for the planet of course, unless you’re fully electric.

But this week, Rupert Carr’s Birchall Properties teamed up with developer Milligan to deliver a gateway facility on the edge of the Peak District national park. Developing on the edge of a national park, what’s green about that? I hear you ask. The gateway is intended to create a more sustainable way to visit the park. Currently, 85% of visitors travel to and through the park by car. The gateway is designed to provide accommodation for those cars and more environmentally friendly routes of access into the park – either on foot, cycling or by using electric park-and-ride vehicles.

Melanie Taylor, head of retail and relations at Milligan, says: “Our vision is to create a sustainable hub for like-minded businesses and a base camp for the exploration of the UK’s first national park. This will be a world-class example of a sustainable tourism project. A gateway could provide information for visitors to book single or multi-day itineraries, explore the area using more sustainable, less polluting modes of transport, and buy or hire outdoor activity equipment to try out new activities.”

Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park, adds that “supporting sustainable gateways and opportunities for visitors to experience what we have to offer in a responsible way” is “vital” to its future.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the role that national parks and our outdoor spaces can play in our recovery and long-term wellbeing,” she says.

Green is good

Fowler is not wrong when she talks about the importance of outdoor spaces for our wellbeing. That is something we have known for some time. But trying to quantify that, especially in a finance-driven industry such as real estate, has been difficult. Until now.

Land management charity the Land Trust has applied metrics, developed in partnership with Amion Consulting, to its service charge locations in a bid to put a value on the economic and social value delivered from green spaces. Its findings show around £2.3m was delivered from managing nine green spaces within residential developments during 2019-20. When the wider uplift in property prices is factored in, the figure exceeds £16m.

“We want to prove that green infrastructure isn’t a liability, which is what many people see it as, but a truly positive benefit,” says Land Trust chief executive Euan Hall. “Open spaces are not marketable commodities, so it’s about proving there is a value there to community and society.”

Environmental ambition

Also this week, the list of major landlords committing to make a change for our planet’s benefit continued to grow.

Canary Wharf Group has set an ambitious environmental strategy for the next decade, with fresh targets including reducing its emissions by 65% by 2030 and ensuring that 60% of its suppliers will have science-based environmental targets in place by 2025. 

In its new sustainability report, Together We Can, which you can read in full here, the group also sets out its ambition to ‘build back better’ from the Covid-19 pandemic, further focusing on collaboration with tenants and suppliers to tackle emissions.

CWG chief executive Shobi Khan said: “As we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, there is an unprecedented opportunity to come back greener and smarter. We want to play our part in a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.

“We have a unique opportunity to help drive change alongside everyone who calls Canary Wharf home. We are determined to work together to go even further to help improve our environment and shape a better world.”

Reinforcing resilience

Elsewhere, new research by the BCO, The Resilient Workplace, takes a look at how office sector professionals will be impacted by climate change.

Writing in EG this week, Cundall partner and author of The Resilient Workplace Simon Wyatt talks about how the sector needs to be resilient.

“To be resilient, an organisation must not only look to mitigate their own impacts, they must at same time adapt to our changing climate,” he writes. “Our research found that while 95% of office sector professionals are worried about climate change’s impact on their buildings, just 42% are taking any steps to adapt their buildings, and none of this is based on the latest climate science. Much more needs to be done.”