Keynote presentation to periurban parks interreg project 16 September Aberdeen


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  • Talk focusses on the opportunity spaces within what we call the RUF. This is a interdisciplinary team project funded by the RELU programme . I am leading this presentation today
  • Use of the word fuzzy signifies soft and fluid boundaries of the RUF Important addition to many definitions by looking at the people who shape the area. See RUF defined by nature/interests of people who live there as much as land uses. This brings into RUF zone commuter areas in what might have been seen as previously rural
  • Range of terms that characterise the fringe. Positive and Negative but reflecting its important status as the key zone of land use change and contestation. Key role of GB tends to dominate debates however.
  • The Academic literature has been notably silent on the URF and RUF but these snapshots seeing some important contributions that reinforce the negative and positive aspects conveying both potential and urgency in sound planning and policy responses.
  • Today the RUF is at the heart of a media frenzy associated with the Coalition governments ideas for planning reform with a presumption in favour of development. Fears of a free for all by the national trust RSPB and others reflect the lack of strategic planning in such areas with all too often an urban focus for such spaces. Yet there are alternative views based on more localised solutions involving environmental solutions from rural traditions Ultimately there are many contested ideas of what these areas should be used for ; hence the need for proactive responses.
  • Our research project tries to address this by taking an interdisciplinary perspective using mixed methods to the RUF problem/opportunity , Today I will focus on emerging results from the visioning exercises we have been doing in north Worcestershire and also the 8 workshops we have held. But first briefly a quick synopsis of our research and conceptual approach as revealed in this diagram. At the heart of the research lies the idea of fusing spatial planning and ecosystem approaches to capitalise on their synergies. Through reflective pieces by members of the team together with state of the art reviews of literature we have identified 3 key concepts to build our intelligence on. Time Connections Values So when we look at the RUF we put on a different glasses; new lenses to appreciate ruf potential
  • Interdisciplinary Unified research team comprising academics and policy and community groups Shape steer and evolve the project NEW way of doing research
  • So I want to briefly unpack our conceptual approach regarding the convergence of spatial planning and ecosystems approaches. Currently pursued as separate paradigms with their own institutional champions and policy responses.
  • Vertical integration: (also international/global perspective e.g. in terms of climate change / CO2 and other gases) Horizontal integration: Priorities and framing of criteria/themes may change over time (new situations, knowledge, insights, identified needs)
  • Descriptive and aspirational Connectivity Long term vision Values and Decisions
  • Definition is holistic and inclusive and must involve spatial planning.? Importance of humans being part of nature NOT separate .
  • Key part of the Ecosystem Approach is the use of values set within an economic determinisim to put a price on ecosystem goods and services. Eg national Ecosystem Assessment (Defra 2011)
  • Importance of fundamental culture change.
  • Yet both paradigms for their separation have much in common in terms of their vocabulary and philosophy with both stressing that they represent new ways of thinking for their respective professions
  • Issue of social learning from experiments as a coping mechanism from uncertainty and making a direct link between EA and SP rare in research literature.
  • Using thoughtpieces from our team members and reviews of literature we focussed down on these 3 concepts reflecting the key fact that many policy makers argue that represent key areas of challenge Connections: assess how RUF landscape, people, communities, institutions, ecosystem services are connected (scale). Temporal : look at how time affects the shape and evolution of the RUF. Values : look at predominant values in decision-making and drivers of change that shape RUF. Decisions: look at the key decisions on RUF Learn from good, bad or controversial situations. Who influences decisions and planning processes?
  • So we can now start to see areas in a new way Key issues in RELU-RUF case study area of Hampton: Exemplar for green space but restricts access to SAC. Developer able to deliver houses and triggers for section 106 based on completions means that community resources are delayed leading to community fragmentation and lack of joined up planning. Jones’ coppice was protected and access prevented due to environmental zoning/planning - rural was protected within the new urban But what value does that area give if we think in a ES terms?
  • The endurance of green belt reflects a long term policy 66 years The decision to support farmers thru the good and services they produce goes back to 1947 but has changed from production to environmental incentive's. CAP is a long term policy decision. Multifunctionlaity reflects a newer goal 1980s
  • Connections raises key issue of scale and the multiple scales we need to consider Who operates at these scales and what do they do and on whose behalf Whose fringe is relevant. This is Redditch ; yet it has its own fringe but it also overlaps with Birmingham , Worcester and Warwick The need to consider green infrastructure set within public and private space. The exten to which Reddtich is connnected with public transport and other rooutes. Where are connections strong and where are they weak.
  • So to try and get more evidence we sought to use deliberative techniques to capture different public views on the fringe.
  • Focus on the North Worcestershire visioning exercise. 16 representatives across business, community and environmental sectors. Aim to assess the RUF personality past present and future. As a group to share their experiences within a facilitated exchange.
  • We developed the idea of a RUF transect. This reflects a gradient of change within the RUF along which we could sample the fringe. Using the work from the Worcestershire Green Infrastructure partnership we were able to select a transect that maximised the environmental character areas that had been defined from a large scale GIS exercise across a range of environmental data sets Resource and time constraints for the exercise restricted us to 3 areas.
  • These are photos of the viewpoints. Vp 1 was on level 5 of Grosvenor House in Redditch with fantastic views out the Western edge of Redditch Bromsgove boundary.
  • The method built on work that i did in 2004 for the Welsh Assembly (what kind of countryside do we want) At each viewpoint we split the group up into 3 and led separate discussions about the RUF past, present and future. The talks were taped and transcribed and also each member was given a notebook to put down their views including those voiced and unvoiced. Each view was on a separate page of paper so as you can see we had a debreif session at the end where everybody could see the range of resposnes at each site across all groups. (also had a nice cream tea!)
  • So I want to present the emerging results under our key themes to give you flavour of the insights.
  • Role of green belt shaping development and its fitness for purpose versus more environmental shaped boundaries approaches Role of farming and long term management for landscape to be so valued and multifuctional . Notion that if we want this type of landscape we will have to pay for it.
  • Discourse between compact city and more extensive development. Group favoured a more extensive development combining environmental liveability.; green space, quality development and positive landscape impact. In viewpoint 3 this argument metamorphosed into the questioning of whether there was a more sustainable pattern using development corridors; challenging much of conventional planning policy. Looking at green belt important to have sensitive recreational development using environmental assets as part of LT rural development. Longbridge is still there but it was a car plant which defined it now it is something waiting for development to happen. Issue about whether the plan for its eco dream is contrived or real.
  • Issue of multiple fringes at different scales. Redditch with its own RUF but part of Birmingham’s RUF thru road and rail links. Important ot look at the big and local pictures. Issue of M42 as key connection across RUF defining RUF and p laying key role in making connections within and without region. Issue of multifunctionality within the green Belt ruf but you have to fight planning battles (marina) as policy is very restrictive.
  • Issue of understanding connections of places thru pattern of landownership and power and influence Importance of connecting people, greenspace, community and environment not restricting (eg Hampton) Scale of connections across the RUF eg Redditch as commuterbelt for Worcestershire and Brum and Wales for water and two river basins
  • Values inherent in the new town putting car secondary to needs of PT. Discourse in viewpoint 2 challenging conventional economic paradigm of growth and power of supermarkets and big business in favour of more community-based, needs based values and local solutions
  • Value attached to secure a rural home and resist change NIMBY Environmental values force rethink as low carbon economy but raises issues of public acceptability
  • The partnership has prepared a series of concept plans which set out the environmental constraints and functional opportunities for key development sites   Strategic Objective To create a cohesive and sustainable community which is inspired by the landscape setting and which provides an attractive living environment for a wide range of household types. To protect and enhance the existing GI resource by designing a framework of green corridors, networks and open spaces which connect the development to the city of Worcester and to the surrounding rural hinterland.   Led by the Strategic Planning & Environmental Policy team of the County Council, the plans have been endorsed by Partnership members including statutory consultees A statement of aims and objectives for GI that the partners would expect to see addressed in site masterplanning The Concept Plans are based on primary baseline data and the multifunctional characteristics of each site... Identify the GI assets and spatial patterns that give rise to opportunities for a connected and multifunctional green infrastructure network...   The way we did it initially Hold a workshop for specialists for each subject/theme Expectation that the development will provide 40% GI – based on best practice as set out in Ecotowns Supplement to PPS1 and TCPA Eco Towns GI Worksheet Negotiation between subject areas with the focus on multifunctionality   These concept plans provide the focus for the funding and viability research work, enabling indicative costs to be grounded in the reality of future development sites Intention to integrate this into a Version 2 of each Concept Plan   Concept Plans have proved really popular with Worcestershire Districts Some are including them in their Core Strategy
  • See how Birmingham City Council are using the concept of risk to map across key areas of local government policy; then to contingency plan and future proof. The key here is to bring key partners together across the council and other stakeholders. Such an approach improves connectivity and the key to this idea is that it has been embedded and signed up to by the governance structures and power bases in the council .
  • Keynote presentation to periurban parks interreg project 16 September Aberdeen

    1. 1. Wasting Space? Managing Environmental Change at the Rural Urban Fringe relu Rural Economy and Land Use Programme Alister Scott Claudia Carter, Mark Reed, Peter Larkham, Nicki Schiessel, Karen Leach, Nick Morton, Rachel Curzon David Jarvis, Andrew Hearle, Mark Middleton, Bob Forster, Keith Budden, Ruth Waters, David Collier, Chris Crean, Miriam Kennet, Richard Coles and Ben Stonyer
    2. 2. Plan <ul><li>RUF in context </li></ul><ul><li>The RUF research opportunity and response </li></ul><ul><li>Capturing viewpoints and expertise </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Visioning using a RUF transect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research Team Workshops </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Discussion: Towards realising new opportunity space for the RUF </li></ul>Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    3. 3. Unpacking jargon 1 Defining the rural urban fringe <ul><li>it is the ‘fuzzy’ and dynamic space where town and countryside uses, interests, ideas converge. </li></ul><ul><li>Directly adjacent to town/city or in countryside where it is dominated by urban interests </li></ul>Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    4. 4. Multiple Faces of the Fringe <ul><li>Innovative </li></ul><ul><li>Edgelands </li></ul><ul><li>Transitional </li></ul><ul><li>Fuzzy </li></ul><ul><li>Messy </li></ul><ul><li>Reactionary </li></ul><ul><li>Ad-hoc </li></ul><ul><li>Diverse </li></ul><ul><li>Dynamic </li></ul><ul><li>Neglected </li></ul><ul><li>Valued </li></ul><ul><li>Contested </li></ul>Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    5. 5. Academics on the fringe <ul><li>Dominant space of 20C </li></ul><ul><li>(Mckenzie, 1996) </li></ul><ul><li>Collection of dynamic and productive environments (Spedding 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Misunderstood space (Gallent et al 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Fringe as a ‘weed’ (Cresswell 1997) </li></ul><ul><li>Battleground for urban and rural uses (Hough, 1990) </li></ul><ul><li>Landscape out of order (Qvistrom 2007) </li></ul>Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    6. 6. The RUF problem/opportunity <ul><ul><li>At the heart of current planning furore in England (NPPF) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Urban-centric space shaped by macro-economic drivers and planning policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contested stakeholder views </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental change agenda offers rethink </li></ul></ul>Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    7. 7. Managing Environmental Change at the rural urban fringe Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    8. 8. The Team <ul><li>Dr Alister Scott PI </li></ul><ul><li>Dr Mark Reed CI </li></ul><ul><li>Prof Richard Coles CI </li></ul><ul><li>Dr Nick Morton CI </li></ul><ul><li>Dr Rachel Curzon CI </li></ul><ul><li>Claudia Carter CI </li></ul><ul><li>Nikki Schiessel CI </li></ul><ul><li>Forest Research </li></ul><ul><li>David Collier NFU </li></ul><ul><li>David Jarvis DJA Consultants </li></ul><ul><li>Ruth Waters/Andrew Hearle Natural England </li></ul><ul><li>Karen Leach/Chris Crean Localise West Midlands </li></ul><ul><li>Miriam Kennet Green Economics Institute </li></ul><ul><li>Keith Budden Birmingham Environment Partnership </li></ul><ul><li>Bob Forster West Midlands Rural Affairs Forum </li></ul><ul><li>Mark Middleton Worcestershire County Council, WMRA </li></ul>
    9. 9. Managing Environmental Change at the rural urban fringe Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    10. 10. Unpacking jargon 2 Spatial Planning Framework EUROCITIES (2004) The Pegasus files: a practical guide to integrated area-based urban planning EUROCITIES , Brussels
    11. 11. <ul><li>“ Collective place shaping efforts aimed to improve the qualities and connectivities of places into the future for the benefit of present and future publics and their potential values” </li></ul><ul><li>Healey 2008: 3 </li></ul>
    12. 12. Unpacking jargon 3 Ecosystem approach <ul><li>&quot;the Ecosystem Approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way “ </li></ul><ul><li>(Convention on Biological Diversity, COP 7 Decision VII/11) </li></ul><ul><li>beyond biodiversity </li></ul><ul><li>beyond ‘environmental’ </li></ul><ul><li>humans inherently part of nature </li></ul>
    13. 13. <ul><li>Ecosystem Approach: Respect for and being mindful of whole system </li></ul><ul><li>Ecosystem Services: Anthropocentric; economic framing common </li></ul>
    14. 14. <ul><li>“ The ecosystem approach may represent a paradigm shift . A fundamental change in the way we manage, value and pay for our natural environment. Implemented successfully, it will mainstream the environment across all decisions” </li></ul><ul><li>Head of Ecosystem Approach, Natural England (2010) </li></ul>
    15. 15. SP and EA Compatibilities <ul><ul><li>New ways of thinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Holistic frameworks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cross-sectoral </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multi-scalar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Negotiating </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enabling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Long term perspective </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Connectivity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Governance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Equity goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regulatory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Market-orientated </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. <ul><li>“… we must learn to apply an adaptive ecosystem approach to ecological planning. This will allow us to deal with the thorny issues of sustainability , itself taken complexly in regional and urban planning, in novel and ultimately more realistic ways.” </li></ul><ul><li>Vasishth 2008: 101 </li></ul><ul><li>Vasishth, A. (2008) ‘A scale-hierarchic ecosystem approach to integrative ecological planning’, Progress in Planning 70 : 99-132. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Converging, wicked problems Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    18. 18. Values Protected/excluded space recreation health & wellbeing barriers accessibility, freedom to roam? HOUSING = development ) Transition space GREENSPACE – ‘natural’ low quality – lacks diversity but good/safe for children to play? views Section 106: community provisions?
    19. 19. Time Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain Agri environment payments Green Belt policy Village envelope Multifunctionality : food, energy , recreation
    20. 20. Connectivity Habitat network Integrated transport system (public) Streams & rivers HOUSING (suit range of social, economic and cultural needs) – COMMUNITY development With Birmingham? Worcester? Warwick? Motorways & Big Roads: barrier for some wildlife species and pedestrians but connection for many people (e.g. car owners) – Small roads & Paths: vice versa Green Infrastructure Views to and from Historical and cultural heritage Permeable surfaces Whose operating in this space: governance and power .
    21. 21. Methods <ul><li>Visioning </li></ul><ul><li>Workshops </li></ul>Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    22. 22. <ul><li>Hampton (Peterborough) 18 th July 12 participants (5600 houses) </li></ul><ul><li>Worcestershire 19 th July 16 participants (landscape scale) </li></ul><ul><li>To experience/assess the different ‘personalities’ within the RUF </li></ul><ul><li>To share knowledge, experience and expertise looking at the RUF past, present and future </li></ul>Field based Visioning exercises Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    23. 23. Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    24. 24. The RUF transect (Expert-led) <ul><li>Idea of a transition and gradient thru RUF </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental character areas </li></ul><ul><li>Data led (GIS) via Worcestershire GIP </li></ul><ul><li>Transect maximised number of environmental character areas </li></ul><ul><li>3 Area selected for exercise </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    25. 25. Worcester Transect Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain Viewpoint 1 Viewpoint 2 Viewpoint 3
    26. 26. Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    27. 27. Workshops <ul><li>Used networks of the research team </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by the network to address their key concerns/expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Low tech interactive approach </li></ul><ul><li>Discussions recorded </li></ul><ul><li>Further iteration through report response </li></ul>Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    28. 28. Workshops 11/10-4/11 <ul><li>West Midlands Rural Affairs Forum Improving decision making for the sustainable management of the rural-urban fringe; 25 participants </li></ul><ul><li>Green Economics Institute Long Termism/ Values in the Built Environment: Rural Urban Fringe & Land Use; 65 participants </li></ul><ul><li>Birmingham Environmental Partnership Bridging the rural urban divide through green economic opportunities; 88 participants </li></ul><ul><li>Localise West Midlands Meeting L ocal needs with local resources in the rural urban fringe; 15 participants </li></ul><ul><li>BCU Learning the lessons from Strategic planning: resurrecting institutional memories;14 participants </li></ul><ul><li>Forest Research Values and Decision making; 8 participants </li></ul>
    29. 29. Results: Visioning <ul><li>Set within our themes </li></ul><ul><li>Flavour only </li></ul><ul><li>Emerging </li></ul><ul><li>Long Termism </li></ul><ul><li>Values and Decision Making </li></ul><ul><li>Connectivity </li></ul>Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    30. 30. <ul><li>“ Seems to be a local authority that has restricted itself by greenbelt designation in how we can develop and build” (Viewpoint 1) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Look at environmental boundaries, (and) make them more fluid” (Viewpoint 1 (3)) </li></ul><ul><li>“ (Farming) and for the long term people are going to have to pay to keep that landscape looking as it is” (Viewpoint 2) </li></ul>Long Termism 1 Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    31. 31. <ul><li>“ ... whether to have more compact high density development versus more spread out development “(Viewpoint 1). </li></ul><ul><li>“ ..develop along our linear routes and have corridors of development reflecting a more sustainable finger approach (Viewpoint 3) </li></ul><ul><li>“ look at recreational development using canal, countryside (prow) & M42” (Viewpoint 2) </li></ul><ul><li>“ ..This place had a personality when Longbridge was there, .(now) ambiguous...” (Viewpoint 3) </li></ul>Long Termism 2 Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    32. 32. <ul><li>“ (Not Redditch per se) its more about looking towards Birmingham and (its) influence on North Worcestershire.” (Viewpoint1) </li></ul><ul><li>“ lot of traffic (M42).. making use of the ruf around the city... Planning has provided connections to get people where they want to be (Viewpoint 2) </li></ul><ul><li>“ The canal/footpaths used for leisure … so you got a lot things happening in the same space” (Viewpoint 2) </li></ul>Connectivity 1 Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    33. 33. <ul><li>“ (That green space) owned by BVT and NT and …Cadbury it would have run together and coalesced with Bromsgrove and Redditch </li></ul><ul><li>“ I like my green space with houses and life and people, all the trees” (Viewpoints 3 (1)) </li></ul><ul><li>(Redditch) has been commuter land especially with train (cheapest area in Worcestershire to live) </li></ul><ul><li>“ That’s Birmingham's water, comes 72 miles from Elan valley in Wales” (Viewpoint 3) </li></ul>Connectivity 2 Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    34. 34. <ul><li>“ Redditch built to be accessible by public transport; hence prioritisation of bus routes /pedestrian underpasses” (Viewpoint 1) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Why do you always need growth” (Viewpoint 2) </li></ul><ul><li>“ This is what the transition groups are setting up across the UK..where farmers let strips of land for local food production” (Viewpoint 2) </li></ul><ul><li>“ For me its sense of community. We help each other volunteering for the community” (Viewpoint 2) </li></ul>Values 1 Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    35. 35. <ul><li>“ We have been here 18 years in that time we have seen not a lot of changes which is wonderful” (viewpoint 2) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Wind, solar, methane as part of a new mix..for economic development” (viewpoint 2) </li></ul><ul><li>“ reducing urban heat island by planting trees is going to become so much more important (Viewpoint 3) </li></ul>Values 2 Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    36. 36. Results : Workshops Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    37. 37. Key Messages: Time <ul><li>We lack planning visions </li></ul><ul><li>We rarely think or value the long term </li></ul><ul><li>We ignore past lessons and institutional memory </li></ul><ul><li>Need to move beyond just spatial solutions and invest in skills </li></ul>
    38. 38. Key messages: Connectivity <ul><li>We readily call for integration but rarely seem able to deliver it </li></ul><ul><li>Identifying connections and interdependencies based on needs of the RUF not other places/interests </li></ul><ul><li>Need improved evidence unpacking ‘needs’ and ‘priorities’ to join up responses </li></ul><ul><li>Need better partnerships but in response to clear problems and opportunities </li></ul>
    39. 39. Key Messages: Values <ul><li>Economic System(s) is fundamentally flawed </li></ul><ul><li>Values need changing but inertia and power </li></ul><ul><li>Need better ways to assess value to realise new opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Green Belt values is part of the RUF problem not the answer </li></ul>
    40. 40. <ul><li>Challenge conventional planning policies green belts </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid environmental, economic or social silos: work collaboratively across the divides </li></ul><ul><li>Look back and learn and revisit in order to plan for the future </li></ul>So what : key challenges Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain
    41. 41. Opportunities 1 Concept Plans
    42. 42. Opportunities 2 Risk Mapping Contingency Planning Future Proofing The 9 piece jigsaw – GIA Partnership Key Partners Climate Risk Water Green Infrastructure Health & Well Being Biodiversity The LEP Community Resilience Transport & Infrastructure
    43. 43. And finally …. <ul><li>Embedding – innovative ways of research and working: Research – Policy – Practice </li></ul><ul><li>Interdisciplinary working with complexity requires experimentation and adaptation </li></ul><ul><li>SP and EA not separate add-ons, but fundamental change required: mind-set – policies – institutions – governance – adaptive management </li></ul>
    44. 44. <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>!/reluruf </li></ul><ul><li>Alister Scott [email_address] </li></ul>Questions ? Building interdisciplinarity across the rural domain