Community Green Infrastructure for Investment Sites Support Programme

The aim

The aim of the project is to develop a six year support programme to help local authorities and their partners to improve the attractiveness, resilience and connectivity of their economic investment sites. This will be through using the benefits of the natural environment to set up and expand community green infrastructure within and around sites. As a result this will help local economic performance  through business retention, attraction, improved access through walking and cycling, and helping the resilience of sites to the climate impacts of flooding and heat.

The scope

The audience is local authorities and their partners seeking to improve their existing or planned key economic and regeneration sites across the West Midlands and covering all the LEPs.

Help would be provided through a shared technical resource to help support the development of the sites and surrounding areas, lever in external resources, and influence and extend the benefits from the investment in the sites.

The West Midlands working definition of Green Infrastructure is – Community Green Infrastructure

“Community Green Infrastructure is clearly defined areas of land that are within or next to areas containing residential or business use which through active development and management of green space and water courses can deliver primarily economic and social benefits, and secondary environmental benefits.

These areas can include: water courses, green spaces and roofs, parks, highway verges, the grounds of businesses and other organisations, and private gardens.

We also recognise the broader contribution Green Infrastructure and Eco-Systems services is making to the use and function of land use and natural resources that provides the foundations of the natural systems that support our world. Community Green Infrastructure may deliver some of these wider outcomes, but it is not its primary purpose. (SWM June 2013)”

The activities

The shared technical resource of 2-3 people and a pool of associates would be managed by an independent body. This team would be tasked with developing the green infrastructure potential within the pipeline of economic investment sites. This would be by:

  • Identifying a pipeline of investment sites and prioritising the potential and benefits from local green infrastructure
  • advising local authorities on local development applications and policies when the site is suitable for developers to enhance the local green infrastructure potential
  • helping with access to external funding and building on good practice e.g. award schemes

The outputs and results

In terms of EU funding requirements the overall outputs and results would be:

  • Number of enterprises receiving support (if they were  benefiting from local green infrastructure around their buildings)
  • Greenhouse gas savings (through carbon sequestration)
  • Hectares of Green infrastructure development improving development sites

Based on the current pipeline of existing and proposed economic investment sites and the potential for local green infrastructure enhancement to the value of the sites, risk reduction from climate impacts, and wider societal benefits then this could produce an additional  £30-50m of benefits.

The budget and timescales

The project is being developed as part of the new EU funding programme. Therefore it is proposed to start in 2015 with the set up of the unit, publication of the project pipeline, and annual progress reports.

Estimated costs at this stage vary depending on what is required from the core team to build local knowledge and capacity and that of associates and partners. Therefore it is estimated at £80,0000-150,000 core costs per year. Ideally the programme would support all 6 West Midlands LEPs, but as a minimum at least 3.

At this stage it is estimated that either this project would fit within a technical assistance style budget. If not the match funding required by the EU funding would be secured either through ‘in-kind’ contributions from partners, and the alignment of existing and future Government support funding for green infrastructure initiatives.

The partners

SWM has developed this project as part of the West Midlands Low Carbon LEP Leadership Network work programme. This has included extensive stakeholder workshops and a joint statementwithin the six LEP EU strategies on which cross-LEP low carbon priorities to work on together. This project is one of them. Our role within the project would be to provide an independent body to host the team, provide overall project management, and lead on the marketing and coordination activity through the creation of a West Midlands green infrastructure good practice network.

SWM members such as the Environment Agency, Natural England, Forestry Commission, Groundwork West Midlands would be key contributors in terms of national and regional expertise, advice, and resources. In addition the Local Nature Partnerships would help provide local knowledge and expertise on particular sites and share it via the practice network that is established.

Black Country LEP has expressed an interest in leading this and several other of the cross-LEP low carbon programmes on behalf of the other five West Midlands LEPs. In the same way other LEPs are leading on other cross-LEP themes such as access to finance.

Further information

For any overall project queries, or if you are interested in aligning your existing green infrastructure support service or want to be considered as a future provider please contact SWM associate Neil Wyatt via enquiries@swm.org.uk

Project updates

September 2013 – Publish scoping study on West Midlands community green infrastructure issues and opportunities for local nature and enterprise partnerships

4/7/13, 20/8/13, 25/11/13, 4/6/14– Stakeholder workshops with LEPs and local authorities, and green infrastructure experts.

25/9/14 – Update project page and West Midlands European Service circulates to all the LEPs together with other cross-LEP programmes.

25/9/15 – Questions over eligibility within which part of the new EU funding programme prevents early applications. However the concept is being developed further by several LEPs and partners. This is also being developed nationally by the Core Cities group.