The Urban Greening Factor (UGF) is a ratio between the amount of built areas and green areas within a city.  City planners use a UGF score to estimate the impact of different greening options compared to a city’s sustainability goals. Existing green cover on site will count towards the total target which is set by the local authority.

The UGF tool can assess and quantify the amount and quality of urban greening that a scheme will provide.  This will inform decisions about the amount of greening required in new developments. A UGF score is calculated using a range of greening factors for surface cover such as:

  • living roofs,
  • permeable paving,
  • water features,
  • flower-rich perennial planting,
  • hedgerows.

Urban greening will become an integral part of new developments moving forward. UGF will need to be delivered on-site and must be met even if a developer is looking at off-site solutions for biodiversity net gain. Green space and infrastructure ought to be considered early in the design and planning stages.

Urban greening


The aims of the UGF include:

  • increasing the amount of green cover within built environments;
  • ensuring better planned and higher quality greening interventions that contribute towards a functioning network;
  • improving biodiversity;
  • reducing rainwater run-off;
  • improving carbon sequestration;
  • reducing air and noise pollution; and
  • regulating urban temperature.

Importance in planning policy

Some planning authorities in the UK are in the process of developing a UGF planning policy to ensure new developments meet a certain UGF score. The new London plan (2021) includes policy on the UGF and states that:

Major development proposals should contribute to the greening of London by including urban greening as a fundamental element of site and building design, and by incorporating measures such as high-quality landscaping (including trees), green roofs, green walls and nature-based sustainable drainage.

Until the individual London Boroughs have developed their policies, the Mayor of London has set target UGF scores that new residential and commercial developments need to meet.

How we can help maximise UGF potential

The ADAS landscape team, working closely with the design team can help maximize the potential UGF score of development. If the scheme is already designed, the team can also calculate the UGF score using the metric set out in the London Plan.

Contact Michael Berwick for more information.

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