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Landscaping plan puts environment first

Environmentally sustainable landscaping is the key to making streets both beautiful and functional, according to the Urban Street Design Manual.

Environmentally sustainable landscaping is the key to making streets both beautiful and functional, according to the Urban Street Design Manual. The landscape plan should emphasise the use of foliage that can tolerate drought and uses only low levels of water, planners say. Along with a site analysis, soil report, and landscaping and irrigation plans, street projects must include a water management plan as part of the design approval process, the manual says.

It also stresses that the greenery should be watered with sewage water and alternative sources of moisture rather than potable water. "Any use of water that might be or appear wasteful shall be avoided," the manual says, noting that water can reduce temperatures, help naturally vegetated areas flourish and mask noise. Designers are being told that if they use water features on their streets, it must recirculate and serve more than one purpose, such as watering nearby plants. Apart from sustainable landscaping, the streets themselves will provide environmental benefits, the UPC said.

More interconnected roads and shorter blocks will mean that drivers will spend less time with their cars idling, planners hope. Cars that were driven slower and stopped less often used less fuel and emitted less pollution, said Alan Perkins, the senior planning manager for the Urban Planning Council. "When the roads are built to encourage speed, everybody accelerates away from the traffic lights and brakes as they are approaching the next set of traffic lights," Mr Perkins said. "Certainly, from a CO2 emissions point of view and petrol consumption, being heavy on the accelerator is quite a negative."

Creating communities in which people walk, cycle and use public transit more will mean less reliance on personal vehicles and, in turn, a reduction in carbon emissions, the manual says. Light pollution shade requirements and urban heat reduction are also addressed in the manual. @Email:mchung@thenational.ae

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