In 2001 a group of regional and national experts set out a manifesto for the region, ‘RECLAIM the Northwest!’, which recognised that dereliction damaged the region’s image, deterred investment and blighted already disadvantaged communities. It noted that past land reclamation had struggled to keep pace with the rate at which new dereliction was created and that the process had often worked against the grain of natural recovery, economic return or community involvement. From this, the subsequent Regional Economic Strategy created the policy framework to establish the land and regional parks programmes which were the cornerstone of the region’s efforts to manage this agenda over the following decade.
The economic downturn in 2007/8 required that a revised rationale for such work be evolved. The basis for a new strategy emerged, that would deliver against previous Brownfield land targets, also integrate a more holistic approach to Green Infrastructure, taking into account ‘green streets’, environmental technologies, the challenges of climate change, energy and food resilience and wider environmental quality imperatives. The emergent new thinking sought to:
- Build the case for delivering sound strategic interventions in ‘green’ land projects
- Draw the efforts of the Regional Forestry Framework and land regeneration teams together and seek a broader ‘productive landscapes’ strand, including food and biomass production issues
- Review the existing research to devise an economic rationale for ‘green’ land projects
- Determine the criteria for selection, on a regional basis, for all new land / environmental quality projects seeking NWDA funding
- Manage the agenda around water as part of the work on land and landscapes
From this shift, the ‘Adapting the Landscape’ framework emerged. Adapting the Landscape was an innovative, new systems approach to landscape and environmental improvement.