Monday, 7 August 2017

Green Corridors

The latest newsletter from Transition Town Exmouth had this feature:

Green Corridors for Exmouth

‘The Exmouth area of East Devon has been long renowned as a place of outstanding natural beauty and a rich habitat for wildlife in flora and fauna. As the built environment is developed here, it is essential that these qualities are not lost. They could be enhanced with careful planning. There are already recommendations that green corridors are incorporated into the Neighbourhood Plan.

...The project could include mapping the location of existing fruit and nut trees in public places and in land privately owned if the owners are interested, assisting linkages between existing trees and shrubs and new planting in corridors such as cycle and footpaths, and park roads.’

Transition Exmouth

What exactly are 'green corridors'?
Wildlife corridor - Wikipedia

We know what 'green wedges' are:
Futures Forum: Green Belts: the Seaton-Colyford 'green wedge'... a fourth application is refused, preventing 'harmful encroachment of urban sprawl into the open countryside'

And things certainly get pretty contentious over these:
Futures Forum: The District Council is trying to "achieve savings/ efficiencies and to continue to protect front line services" - which will probably mean "huge increases in Council Tax whilst rampant developments start to cover our beautiful countryside and Exeter grows exponentially in order to meet the huge Local Plan targets for new homes."
Futures Forum: Going, going, gone?...... "Evidence from CPRE branches across England demonstrates that there is a growing threat to our most important landscapes from inappropriate development."

Here's a good definition of a 'green corridor' - in the context of big cities, but it works for towns too:

It is commonly accepted that green corridor should be based on habitat connection and also fulfill recreational, cultural and other social functions

Do urban green corridors "work"? It depends on what we want them to do. What ecological and/or social functions can we realistically expect green corridors to perform in cities? What attributes define them, from a design and performance perspective? – The Nature of Cities

It's not only Shanghai and Stockholm, but also Singapore which has campaigns to promote green corridors:
About | The Green Corridor | Singapore . Show Your Support . Spread the Message . Share Your Stories
Plans for the Green Rail Corridor in Singapore - Business Insider

Sometimes, however, the notion can turn rather unpleasant...
Futures Forum: Eco-imperialism, zero-deforestation and palm oil
Futures Forum: Urban spin... "Bikes, parks and pedestrian boulevards..." or... "Car-free roads and green corridors will allow private developers to wreck heritage"

Meanwhile, 'green corridor' in other contexts can refer to 'green transport lanes' - the two can of course be combined:
Green corridors protect cyclists and pedestrians from pollution - The Conversation

This is often referred to as 'green infrastructure' - and many local authorities have very clear policies on this:
East Hampshire District Council: Green Infrastructure Strategy 2011 - 2028 
GREEN CORRIDORS - Bromsgrove  

Bristol has its policies too:
Futures Forum: Bristol's green corridors @ BBC Springwatch

As does Exeter:
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Planning: an example from Exeter St James

Indeed, some authorities are more proactive than others:
A framework for green space - Open Spaces Society 

In 2009, East Devon commissioned its study of green infrastructure, 'specifically for the growth point area:
Green Infrastructure - East Devon
Local Plan documents - Evidence base - East Devon

The Local Plan itself does refer to green inrastructure:

East Devon Local Plan Policies 2013 – 31

Strategy 5 – Environment
2) Creating green networks and corridors to link the urban areas and wider countryside to enable access by all potential users 

18 Our Outstanding Natural, Built and Historic Environment

Green Networks and Green Infrastructure 

18.2 Green networks (also known as green infrastructure) comprise the spaces within and around settlements, and the movement routes within and between them, or to other destinations (such as the coastline) for both people (residents, workers, visitors) and wildlife. Green networks will create high quality, attractive settings for day-to-day living and recreation will enhance the character and diversity of the landscape and will protect heritage assets, and promote management and access and enjoyment of them recognising that they contribute to the area’s unique sense of place and cultural identity. Green networks must enrich the area’s wildlife value, offset negative impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation and retain or create habitat linkages. Where a water course is incorporated the corridor will serve numerous purposes such as sustainable drainage systems, wildlife routes, and leisure and recreation. 
We will: 
a) Develop a District-wide Green Infrastructure Strategy as a Supplementary Planning Document, with Area Frameworks for each town linked to its rural surroundings. 
b) Exploit fully the opportunities that green networks present to make leisure and recreation spaces throughout the district accessible to as wide a range of people as possible. 
c) Provide space for community allotments. 

Promoting Green Infrastructure 

18.3 A Green Infrastructure Strategy document is being prepared in collaboration with a broad range of organisations including Devon County Council and in particular to take account of their Rights of Way Improvements Plan. This will examine and promote opportunities to link green spaces together through footpaths and cycle links and will also help define schemes that can go into an associated Strategic Projects and Investment Programmes. 

18.4 The District Council in conjunction with Devon County Council and supporting the work of SUSTRANS has been keen to see provision of new cycle routes. The map below shows the main strategic cycle routes in Devon that exist or are proposed (note that local routes, in towns, are not shown). 

18.5 Green Infrastructure is seen as an essential part of our Vision for a long-term sustainable future for East Devon. The Council is committed to developing strategic networks of accessible, multi-functional sites (including parks, woodland, informal open spaces, nature reserves and historic sites) as well as linkages (such as river corridors and flood plains, wildlife corridors and greenways). These contribute to people’s well-being and together comprise a coherent managed resource responsive to evolving conditions. The Axe Estuary wetlands are an example of a multi-functional green space which is currently an important wildlife habitat but in time will expand in terms of its size and value for recreation, biodiversity and community use. 

18.6 We will develop a District wide Green Infrastructure Strategy and will focus on delivery of Strategic Projects and Investment Programmes. The document will produce separate sections for each town (Area Frameworks) linked to the rural parts of the District to ensure that consistency and a comprehensive output is achieved. The Green Infrastructure Strategy will promote the conservation and enjoyment of the natural and historic environment and be consistent with the detailed mitigation and delivery strategy arising from the Habitat Regulations Assessment work (of which Green Infrastructure is part of the solution). 

18.7 Liaison with Town and Parish Councils will ensure local desires and needs are understood and inform the priorities for strategic projects and investment programmes.


The Exeter and East Devon Growth Point project has also produced something on 'GI':

Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure or "GI" is a term which is being used more and more in the world of planning and strategic development. There are many definitions of GI but GI can be broadly defined as:

A network of multi-functional green spaces. GI is set within, and contributes to a high quality built and natural environment and is required to enhance the quality of life for present and future residents and visitors.

Well designed and integrated, GI can deliver a range of functions. These include biodiversity, flood risk management (including the use of sustainable urban drainage systems SUDS), health and wellbeing, recreation, water resources, water quality and helping to adapt to the effects of climate change.

The Growth Point Partners have committed to the development of a framework for Green Infrastructure to ensure that there is an accessible network of green spaces, green travel routes, and to ensure that existing natural assets are incorporated into strategic plans. This framework could take the form of a number of green projects, to include the planting of historical woodland, improving access across the countryside and at the same time improving the biodiversity for enjoyment and education.

The Exeter Area and East Devon Green Infrastructure study group have published a Green Infrastructure Study as part of phase one work. Their Phase Two work has progressed this further to focus on the growth areas and work towards a strategy as part of the Local Development Framwork (LDF).

Green infrastructure in Exeter, specifically Riverside and Ludwell Valley Parks, have been identified as alternative natural greenspace for increasing development of homes. Find out more about the masterplan for these parks.

As well as the Growth Point local authority partners, the GI study group is made up of representative members from Natural England, the Environment Agency and our neighbours at Teignbridge District Council.

Green Infrastructure - Exeter and East Devon Growth Point

In other words, this is rather low on specifics - and focusses on Cranbrook anyway...

It seems that it will be the job of emerging Neighbourhood Plans to look at green corridors in detail.

For example, in Budleigh Salterton, there are plans to ensure the future of its old railway line:


OBJECTIVES – To ensure the following:

Encouragement of the designation of a green network along the amenity railway line and creation of a green corridor.

Budleigh Salterton Design Statement:

4.3.2 Strands of countryside penetrate and weave their way into the town, providing wildlife corridors and patches of woodland only minutes from the town centre.

Budleigh Salterton Neighbourhood Plan by Trudie Burne - issuu

The Local Plan does refer to specific green infrastructure for Exmouth and Budleigh:

Para 9.2.i. Investigate proposals for the amenity former railway link from Upper Stoneborough to East Budleigh Road to be designated as a green network and corridor.

Local Plan 2013-2031 - East Devon

And what about Sidmouth? 

Its paths take us through plenty of green:
Futures Forum: Oh, go take a walk... in Sidmouth

Here's a useful map:

Time’s ticking away for Knowle: Green Corridors | Save Our Sidmouth

More on the Knowle parkland later...

Meanwhile, we have the Byes - and the Friends of the Byes, who do a huge amount of work in this much-loved green space:
Friends of The Byes / Sidmouth BEE Project - Home | Facebook

And we have the idea of a 'green link' between the Ham green at Port Royal up to the Byes park.

Things are a little sensitive over the future of the Ham green space:

But there is enthusiasm for connecting the seafront with the park in the latest quesitonnaire from the Neighbourhood Plan:
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: final household survey launched > getting the balance of the Sid Valley's natural and built environments right
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: results presented >>> >>> the Sid Vale's natural beauty and seafront come out top >>> and transport and the District Council come bottom

And the question about such a link was greeted very favourably:

SurveyMonkey Powered Online Survey
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan > interim report on Port Royal to be fed into Scoping Study process: "It is important that the views and opinions about Port Royal from the 1863 households who completed the survey should be fed into the public consultation."

Much of this goes back to recommendations in the Vision Group report of 2006:
Vision Group for Sidmouth - Original Vision Group Report

And more detailed points made in the Port Royal Steering Group's report of 2012:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: VGS and PRSG
Vision Group for Sidmouth - Community Engagement Brief

Finally, there are innovative ideas happening to green up the corridors around Port Royal:
Futures Forum: A sensory garden for Sidmouth >>> funding to help project revitalise a rather tired part of town
Futures Forum: Trees @ Port Royal

No comments: