I had the privilege of delivering a workshop on integrating green and blue infrastructure into Neighbourhood Plans and the new ‘Place Plans’ in Wales at the Renew Wales 2016 conference. Renew Wales work with community groups to facilitate and provide guidance for the delivery of projects that will help to create more sustainable, climate resilient places for future generations to come. It was gratifying and exciting to work with representatives from such a diverse group of organisations. I was able to pass on my experience of the planning system and to explore how local communities and private enterprises can work constructively with local authorities to shape the way in which green and blue infrastructure is delivered. The key to successful design and implementation of regeneration and new development at any scale rests on the language used to facilitate the interaction between stakeholders.
As part of the panel debate at the conference, I was struck by the way in which the Brexit vote had acted as a catalyst for people to really think about the nature of their communities and the importance of taking responsibility for communicating more effectively with the UK Government. As communities, we have to take ownership of green and blue infrastructure and realise how this is vital to any government’s agenda moving forward in this post Brexit environment.
The importance of devolution and localism, taking the unique opportunity to drive forward a new and sustainable goal for our island, really came out as a strong message from the conference. Anne Jazulot from TDAG described the integration of green and blue infrastructure as ‘the art of the possible’, and judging by the hope and desire to share experience and expertise across communities in Wales and beyond that I witnessed on this special occasion, the Renew Wales event really was a celebration of the possible!