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Agenda item


To review progress on the implementation of the Green and Blue Infrastructure (GBI) Strategy and associated action plan.


Mr John Blackledge, Director of Community and Environmental Services provided an overview of the work undertaken to date through the implementation of the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy and progress made against the action plan. He advised that a new position had been created to drive forward the green and blue agenda and that services were being regularly brought together to identify how the green and blue infrastructure could be improved through changes to planning policy, housing developments, leisure facilities and town centre development.


The Board was informed of the development of a Tree Strategy which aimed to increase tree coverage across the borough and it was suggested that a workshop be carried out in order to allow scrutiny input into the strategy development. The level of tree canopy was measurable and there was an intention to maximise social value from contracts to increase the level of trees to the maximum within resources. It was suggested that garden centres could be approached to sponsor trees and Mr Blackledge advised that the Council was being as innovative as possible in its work to improve tree planting.


In response to a question, Ms Annie Heslop, Green Infrastructure Development Manager advised that support was being provided to create new ‘Friends of’ groups at parks that did not previously have one e.g. Revoe Park. Members raised concern that the level of expectation on such groups was too high and that the Council should be the body approaching local businesses to increase engagement. Ms Heslop advised that groups were being supported and empowered and that additional work would be undertaken to further engage the business community.


Members noted that the land recently sold at Stanley Park Golf Course was not mentioned in the Strategy and suggested that it was a prime area to include green and blue infrastructure. Mr Blackledge noted the concerns previously raised around the site and the importance of preserving habitats. He suggested that some people viewed that the change of use would actually provide space that was available for use by more residents.


The town centre was discussed in detail, and the lack of tress in particular was noted. Potential options for increasing the number of tress were considered including the use of raised beds similar to the approach taken in Southport. The use of permitted sums to create green space was also discussed as was the importance of trees in flood management. Mr Blackledge reported that various approaches and models were being considered for implementation including how car parks could include green infrastructure and how private drives and gardens might be utilised with the support of residents.


The Leadership Board highlighted that the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy was largely focussed on ‘green’ aspects with little contact on the improvement of blue spaces such as lakes, ponds, and the seafront. Mr Blackledge acknowledged that there was a gap in the strategy around blue infrastructure and highlighted that the lake in Stanley Park was considered to be of excellent water quality. He advised that it was hoped the lake could be utilised for activities such as kayaking and sailing in the future. He also reported that the quality of bathing water at the sea was much improved.


The Committee agreed:

1.      To set up a workshop for scrutiny input into the developing Tree Strategy.

2.      To receive a further report on the overall implementation of the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy and Action Plan in approximately 10 months, with specific reference to:

a.      The additional actions identified around ‘Blue infrastructure’ in that time following the Leadership Board’s identification of a gap in that area.

b.      Work undertaken by the Council to further engage the business community.

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