Training: An Environment for Planning

Embedding the natural capital approach in planning and development.

A unique one-day online training course designed for anyone working in the planning and built development sectors in the public, private and third sector. This course has now run in both online and face-to-face formats. We expect that hte next course will take place autumn 2021. Please get in touch via to register your interest.

"Extremely knowledgeable trainers. A very good overview of the issues involved in applying natural capital." Course participant, Leeds, February 2020

Next course:

  • Online - four interactive sessions via Zoom - Autumn 2021

Course topic

There is growing evidence of the economic and social value of the multiple benefits delivered by the natural environment in urban and rural areas. This includes:

  • Knowledge of how access to natural outdoor spaces improve health and wellbeing.
  • The connections between environmental quality and local economic development.
  • The role of the natural environment in climate change adaptation and resilience.

Greenspace is also a vital dimension of ‘place-making’; providing a sense of identity, common purpose and belonging to residents and businesses.

Current understanding of the value of nature in society is embodied in the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services. Alongside inclusion of these terms in planning policy, a so-called ‘natural capital approach’ is now advocated by Government and the private sector. This one-day course takes participants to the heart of what these concepts mean for professional practice in planning and development, covering the implications for planners and developers in their day-to-day work and the link with other terms such as green infrastructure, biodiversity net gain and environmental net gain.

This training course is designed for anyone working in planning and built development in the public, private and third sector. Ideal for policy planners, development management planners, planning officers, designers and masterplanners, landscape architects, developers, and all others with an interest in this sector.

Course content

  • Public policy background, recent changes and direction of travel (including biodiversity net gain and environmental net gain), links to the place-shaping agenda and sustainable development.
  • Natural capital in policy planning – integration into local policy, infrastructure and investment planning, delivery methods and approaches to guide spatial planning.
  • Creating a natural capital evidence base – an overview of assessment approaches, including metrics, mapping, and accounting, existing tools and standards.
  • Natural capital in development management – using natural capital approaches to improve delivery and enhancement on site, measuring and delivering biodiversity and environmental net gain.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, trainees will have the understanding and skills to:

  • Make informed decisions about why and how to apply ecosystem services and natural capital approaches in their professional practice.
  • Advise colleagues, customers and clients on the incorporation of biodiversity net gain and environmental net gain into plans and development proposals.
  • Take action to form (or strengthen) the evidence base on natural capital and ecosystem services that serves their employer’s needs, and understand the different approaches available.
  • Inform discussions that improve site layouts and masterplans for the benefit of clients, customers and the public at large.


The course will include presentations, integrated with numerous case studies, interactive sessions and group discussions.

Continuing Professional Development

This course is designed to provide 5 hours of CPD credits. Certificates of course participation can be provided to trainees on request.


  • Dr Jim Rouquette is a Director and co-founder of Natural Capital Solutions, an environmental consultancy that helps organisations understand, assess and make strategic decisions about their natural capital assets. Jim is an expert in natural capital and ecosystem services assessment, including modelling, mapping and monetary valuation, biodiversity and natural capital net gain, natural capital accounting, opportunity mapping and stakeholder engagement. His work aims to operationalise the natural capital and ecosystem services approach, and he has worked extensively with the public, private and third sectors to develop assessment approaches and policy guidance for the planning and development sector. Jim is a Visiting Researcher at the University of Northampton.
  • Andra Stopforth is Delivery Manager at the North Northamptonshire Joint Planning and Delivery Unit. She has experience of working on protecting assets policies for the North Northamptonshire Core Strategy (Local Plan) for four authority areas. Andra is a Steering Group member for the Nene Valley Nature Improvement Area that involved key work streams around Planning, Access and Ecosystem Services. She initiated work on an Ecosystem Services approach to Tresham Garden Village and joint working on a Natural Capital SPD for North Northamptonshire. She is also responsible for various infrastructure led documents for North Northamptonshire to ensure that they are delivering Garden Communities incorporating Place Shaping, Health and Well-Being and Natural Capital.

Course delivered in association with Natural Capital Solutions

Booking terms and conditions

  • Refunds will be given for bookings cancelled up to 20 working days before the event, less an administration fee of £50.  After this date, no refunds will be given.
  • Names of delegates within any one organisation can be changed free of charge up to five working days before the course date.
  • In the event of one or other trainer not being available, an appropriate substitute will be provided.