Friday 4 December 2009

This Land is Our Land

At the Bluecoat in Liverpool today, we helped with the launch of 'Adapting the Landscape', a framework vision for a new, productive landscape fusing together the two city regions of Liverpool and Manchester. 

As well as producing some materials and a presentation for the event, Creative Concern was a key part of the project team, contributing to the new vision for a land that is home to 6 million people and an economy of £50 billion. The other members of the project team - led by URS Corporation - were WXY Studio in New York, West 8, Barnes Walker and the lovely people at Urban Practitioners. The project was funded - and steered - by the NWDA and the Regional Parks Xchange (where you can go to download the presentations from the event) as well as the Mersey Basin Campaign, Natural England, Homes and Communities Agency and Peel Holdings.

The ‘Adapting the Landscape’ research study is basically about using landscape, place and sustainability to help unlock even higher levels of prosperity, wellbeing and quality of life. It provides a framework for landscape adaptation and investment that can tackle climate change, support improvements in people’s quality of life and underpin economic growth. The framework we've come up with identifies the contribution that natural landscape resources can make to the future development of the Lower Mersey Basin, the area covered by this study. At the same time the approach provides a toolkit for identifying and prioritising investment that can be applied to any area.

The themes we explored through the project - initially as a set of future scenarios - included:

Mersey Bioregion
This is centred around a move towards a more self-sufficient, sustainable region with an emphasis on localism, renewable energy production, the growing of food and energy crops and a landscape well adapted to climate change.

Innovation Axis
Here, the key is to connect the city regions and major towns with stronger communications set in an area of attractive and marketable green infrastructure. There would be a focus on jobs and opportunities through the connection of knowledge centres and growth industries, including environmental technologies and services.

Mersey Playgrounds
This strand recognised the importance of high quality, accessible local environments where people can play, travel and work. Waterways will become destinations and leisure routes; flood alleviation measures will be used to create new landscapes and culture and art will be used to transform the visual experience of the region.

So what could be achieved? Some of the possibilities include:

Green the cities. Take the landscape of the Lower Mersey Basin into the heart of the cities with street trees and enhanced green infrastructure.

Embrace the waterfronts. Create and improve green access along the river and other waterways, stretching into the heart of the city regions and where possible, new water bodies.

Create a diverse landscape. Make the Mersey Bioregion the most dynamic, productive and biodiverse landscape through land art, farms and planting.

Manage a productive landscape. Produce energy from wind, tides, biomass and the sun.

Facilitate an accessible landscape. Establish a fine grain network of paths and bridges to accompany existing strategic arteries with an emphasis on localism.

Create a landscape for prosperity. Continue the Mersey’s history of innovation. In centres like Daresbury it is environmental technologies leading our way into a low carbon future.

Build a resilient and playful landscape. Utilise funding for flood defences to respond to flood risks and create iconic cultural landmarks, public space and new biodiverse habitats as part of ‘Mersey Playgrounds’.

Our next challenge is to build all of the above into the region's new Integrated Strategy (RS2010). Watch this space for more details.

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