Swansea Council’s cabinet is being asked to adopt a draft plan that aims to help deliver a greener city.
The views of people across Swansea have already influenced the draft Regenerating Our City for Wellbeing and Wildlife strategy.
The plan states it aims to deliver “a greener city, with fewer hard surfaces, to help create a city centre that is a more attractive place in which to live and more resilient to climate change.”
It also sets out “more use of nature to provide space for wildlife, bring people pleasure and offer an improved experience for visitors and traders.”
The draft – developed in partnership by Swansea Council, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the Green Infrastructure Consultancy, stakeholders and the community – went out for public consultation last year. On February 18 the cabinet will consider it for adoption.
David Hopkins, the council’s joint deputy leader and cabinet member for delivery and operations, said: “The draft strategy was developed with strong engagement across the public, private and third sectors and – importantly – the community.
“If it is adopted it will help enhance the green infrastructure we will see in future development and retrofits across the city.”
Green infrastructure (GI) is a term used to describe all the features of the natural environment between and within our towns and cities. It is not about just creating more greening but ensuring that greening provides a variety of opportunities and benefits for people and nature to thrive.
The Swansea strategy sets out a vision for the central area of the city to be much greener. It promotes a joined-up approach to incorporating green infrastructure in future city centre regeneration work.
Cllr Hopkins said: “Many people and organisations with an interest in the future of Swansea have had their say on this strategy.
“This work has benefitted from the ideas of specialists and the local community -their ideas and feedback has been greatly valued.
“Green infrastructure provides an opportunity for Swansea to bring nature into the heart of the city and widen its appeal to residents and visitors. This will bring benefits such as boosting biodiversity and improving climate change resilience.
“The climate is changing and we need to change with it. Failure to adapt to and mitigate for climate change is no longer an option if we are to provide an economically prosperous hub for the Swansea Bay City Region.
“Environmental sustainability is the basis for a resilient and prosperous Swansea. The benefits and cost-effectiveness of green infrastructure are well documented. The regeneration now underway in central Swansea provides a perfect opportunity to design in GI improvements to help ensure we have a city centre fit for the future.
“The strategy sets out the benefits and cost-effectiveness of green infrastructure – including reduced flood risks, cleaner air and water, reductions in noise and gains in biodiversity.
“It will enable the council and stakeholders to take an informed and joined up approach to maximising these benefits and will create investor confidence in green infrastructure in the city centre.”
Swansea city centre is undergoing a £1bn regeneration programme and the new strategy will guide developers on how nature can be integrated into their designs.
If adopted by the cabinet, it will complement the council’s Swansea Central Area Regeneration Framework (SCARF). It will meet the objectives of the Welsh Government’s Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.
The strategy aligns with the council’s corporate priority to maintain and enhance Swansea’s natural resources and biodiversity.
Martyn Evans, Head of South West Operations, Natural Resources Wales, said: “Connecting people to nature and all the benefits that come with it is a cornerstone of the work we do and this strategy would put that into practice in a very real way.
“By increasing and improving green spaces and ensuring everything that’s installed, built or grown has several benefits and purposes, we can set up Swansea to meet the needs of today and of the future.
“Our commitment to Green Infrastructure is outlined in our South West Area Statement, which sets out a work plan that puts sustainability at its forefront to help combat the climate, biodiversity and ecological emergencies that we all now face.”
(Lead image: Swansea Council)