Last updated: 28 September 2023

Next review: 28 September 2024

2030 Vision: Waltham Forest is one of the greenest boroughs in London. Residents have access to high-quality green space within 15 minutes of their homes to support their mental and physical well-being. The air is clean, and the local wildlife thrives. 


Key target: 40% of the total area of the borough will consist of open spaces (such as natural and semi-natural greenspace, green corridors, allotments, civic spaces, playgrounds and sports facilities). 

Key Disruption for Climate Justice: Collective action to build flood resilience. Some of the most vulnerable homes in the borough are also at risk of flooding, but we can all take action to build better flood resilience. The Council will continue to seek funding for new and improved infrastructure, but as part of this action plan, we will start a new initiative to work with residents to take action at home. This will involve increasing the permeability of driveways, adding water storage and planting greenery which retains rainwater.  

  • Action 1: Use development and planning to make Waltham Forest a haven for nature. Carbon emissions are very important, but they are far from our only goal. When we build, and when we retrofit buildings, we must use these opportunities to increase biodiversity. ‘Biophilic’ design is the idea of getting closer to the natural environment in what we build. A block of flats and a park do not necessarily need to be separate things. The Council will use planning tools to help us prevent developments which hinder our goal to be a greener and more resilient borough. We will build a leading example of biophilic design in the borough, we will also explore requiring a percentage of floor space in new developments to be green space.  

  • Action 2: Extend our schemes to increase drainage in flood-risk areas. We will implement Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) through planning requirements. SuDS are drainage solutions that mimic natural drainage regimes, using green and blue infrastructure to reduce surface water flooding, while also improving water quality and enhancing the amenity and biodiversity value of the environment. SuDS provide an alternative to traditional drainage networks of pipes and sewers.  

  • Action 3: Extend tree planting schemes. Establishing ‘forests within the Forest’ will benefit all residents. Waltham Forest has the fourth highest canopy cover in London, but we need to go further. This is why the Council will work to identify areas with greater tree planting opportunities, such as Lea Valley and Epping Forest, and partner with other London Boroughs to increase the amount of trees in, but also near, the borough. But we will also protect mature trees, which typically absorb more carbon than younger trees but also absorb water to reduce the risk of flooding.  

Leading and Inspiring Collective Action 

As a Council, we own land across the borough and are therefore responsible for managing it properly to build resilience and protect environmental quality across Waltham Forest.  

  • Council Leadership: Boost biodiversity across the Council estate. We will introduce green roofs and retrofit street furniture to ensure we manage our spaces in a way that can support biodiversity and wildlife.  

  • Council Leadership: Expand Biodiversity expertise within the Council. The Council will establish a new Council lead for biodiversity, with the necessary expertise to deliver the Biodiversity Action Plan and coordinate work with partners across the borough, ensuring that biodiversity is mainstreamed into decision-making.