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Green Places: Putting the local environment at the heart of the devolution agenda

The local environment can be the 'green thread' that binds devolution deals together.


  • Green Places
  • By Ed Wallis
  • Published 14 October 2016

The devolution agenda that is currently in full swing offers huge potential to support local environments and empower local communities. There are risks, however, that this promise will remain unfulfilled and that the economic focus of the ‘northern powerhouse’ will crowd out broader social, environmental and democratic aims of devolution.

This report assesses the evolving devolution policy landscape, and shows how the local environment can be the ‘green thread’ that binds devo deals together. There is growing recognition in public policy of the importance of green infrastructure – our interconnected network of green spaces. They bring significant economic, social, and environmental benefits, as well as providing crucial community spaces where people can come together, meet their neighbours and build trusting relationships.

Judith Blake outlines how councils can make green infrastructure a bigger part of their devolution strategies, as an engine of economic growth, wellbeing, and wider civic and regional renewal. Sarah Whitney makes the economic case for investment in green infrastructure, while Ruth Davis investigates how civil society can engage with the devolution agenda and Hugh Ellis considers the role of the planning system in creating ‘green places’.

With Greater Manchester furthest on in the devolution process, Kate Chappell explains how it is using its new powers mainstream environmental policy. Hannah Jameson shows how getting the most out of devolution requires a different approach to politics. And Mark Walton and Kate Swade outline the options for hard-pressed local authorities as they try to keep green spaces viable in the face of spending cuts.

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Ed Wallis

Ed Wallis is policy manager at Locality. He was previously editor of the Fabian Review.

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