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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Big Green City plans for Carlisle with £25bn spin-off

Proposals have emerged to make Carlisle The Big Green City – with a potential £25 billion spin-off.

James Bainbridge photo
James Bainbridge

A claim has been made that the city’s so-called green infrastructure and natural resources could be worth that amount over the next 50 years.

But for the vision to succeed – and open areas to achieve their maximum potential – supporters say more thought needs to be put into open areas formed as part of new building developments.

A new report, Carlisle: The Big Green City, outlines the potentially lucrative role that the city’s assets could play.

But it came with a warning that red tape surrounding green areas would have to be released.

The report was drawn up by council officials in an attempt to value the worth of open land in the area and the cash contribution they could have in terms of health, leisure and the environment.

Councillor Stephen Layden, the committee chairman, said that the local plan could be used in protecting what the area already had and creating new green spaces.

Issues were examined by Carlisle City Council’s environment and economy overview and scrutiny panel yesterday.

Phil Gray, the authority’s neighbourhood and green spaces manager, told councillors that it was difficult to measure the financial value and benefits provided by such areas.

He added: “Land at Rickerby Park provides flood defences just by simply storing water that would flood residents or other parts of the city.”

But Councillor James Bainbridge said that adoption of green areas on newly-developed estates could be a problem area.

Mr Gray said: “Increasingly developers are choosing to manage their green spaces. Developers have indicated that they want to set up management companies.”

Mr Bainbridge responded: “There can be problems when those companies go out of business.”

Mr Gray said that he had recently talked to developer Persimmon and he had suggested things that they should be including in its developments, and added: “It’s about quality of life – space for fresh air, sport, children’s play and wildlife conservation. It’s fair that they understand that.”

He said that certain areas within the city, such as Currock, were at a disadvantage because they were already heavily developed, but residents should still be able to easily get to open spaces.

But Councillor Jacqueline Franklin said she was concerned that the site chosen for a new women’s hostel, on Water Street, would not have enough green space around it.

She added: “I have got these visions of children going to school crossing lots of busy roads. There’s no green space and there is nothing nice about that area.”

A separate council report stated that Carlisle’s green infrastructure included parks and open spaces, the river valleys and floodplains, lonnings and cycleways, and woodlands and nature reserves.

It is believed these green assets represent a range of natural resources in the form of air and water purification, climate regulation and wildlife conservation.

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