Development and Implementation Plan for Access in the Kelvin Valley
Halcrow Group Ltd
In association with Scottish Agricultural College
October 2001North Lanarkshire Council
1.1.1 By letter dated 19 September 2001, Halcrow Group Ltd were invited by a client group led by North Lanarkshire Council to submit a Proposal to undertake the formulation of a development and implementation plan for access in the Kelvin Valley, North Lanarkshire.
1.1.2 We are pleased to submit this document in response to that invitation. The aims of this proposal are therefore as follows :
· To demonstrate that the Consultant Team has the skills and experience necessary to undertake the work;
· To provide an understanding of the background to and objectives of the Study;
· To explain the proposed structure of the Study and the purpose, method and output of each of the component tasks; and
· To describe the main administrative factors relating to programme, staffing and budget.
1.1.3 The remainder of this chapter will outline the Team’s relevant experience and demonstrates their competency in fulfilling the requirements of the brief. Appendices with supporting information are presented at the end of the document.
1.2 The Consultant Team
1.2.1 It is proposed that the Study Team comprises specialists from the Halcrow Group Ltd and the Scottish Agricultural College. Halcrow has gathered considerable specific recent experience in countryside access related projects and tourism developments, including local path feasibility work. The team is comprised of staff from the company’s Edinburgh Office specialising in Planning, Development and Environmental Issues and by staff from the company’s Jedburgh Office who will provide expert input on details related to path specification and bill of quantities. Scottish Agricultural College have worked on a number of recent local path projects with Halcrow and they bring expertise in landowner issues including detailed consultations, public participation meetings and access to their own Advisory Service network of offices across Scotland which maintains a database of land owners.
1.2.2 The Development Planning unit of Halcrow Group Ltd was established in 1964 (formerly operating as Halcrow Fox). We have a reputation for integrated Planning, Transport, Environmental, Economic and Development Studies. Since 1990, we have been providing expert advice to clients ranging from Local Authorities, Community Trusts, Scottish Natural Heritage, Local Enterprise Companies and other partnership bodies on access.
1.2.3 Specialist skills within the development planning unit include tourism and recreation access, environmental, rural and development planning, social inclusion, transport / cycle planning, community participation and development funding - these would be drawn upon for the Study. We would also ensure clear and concise presentation of issues by graphics and mapping accomplished using CAD. The Company has a long track record of recreational and rural development projects in Scotland.
1.2.4 Selected recent experience is outlined below. We have undertaken detailed local path network feasibility studies in over twenty cities, towns and villages across Scotland, specifically producing costed, detailed “tender ready” path specifications with bills of quantities ready for implementation. In addition, our experience on the wider, strategic dimension of access in Scotland and of detailed on-site path proposals is also illustrated. We are currently developing a path network Action Plan for Elgin, Stirling and Penicuik and are developing a City wide Access Strategy for the City of Glasgow.
1.2.5 In summary, selected relevant project experience includes:
· Penicuik Path Network Feasibility Study for Midlothian Council, Paths for All Partnership, and Penicuik Community Council. Wider urban fringe and development issues are a key element in determining a comprehensive path network plan .
· Stirling Path Feasibility Study for Stirling Council, Paths for All Partnership, and Scottish Natural Heritage. This work links into wider community issues such as Social Inclusion and Health which are live in Stirling at the present time
· Elgin Access Study. for Moray Council, Paths for All Partnership, SNH, and Moray Badenoch and Strathspey Enterprise. Particular emphasis has been placed on novel methods of consultation to establish local demand for access in the Town.
· Sustainable Path Network for East Lothian, completed in October 1998, involved the preparation of a Strategy for improved access throughout the whole of the East Lothian Council area. Detailed network plans for 3 settlements were drawn up and costed.
· Dumfries and Stranraer Local Path Networks Feasibility Studies. Completed in October 2000, provided a costed, programme of action, on core path networks for all users/abilities where appropriate around both towns. The Study also sought to establish a baseline of path use with a view to assessing economic and social impacts. The study has formed a component of Dumfries and Galloway’s Countryside Access Strategy.
1.2.6 In addition to the above, the Company has been involved in other numerous local countryside access related projects as part of wider tourism and development initiatives, for both the private and public sectors.
1.2.7 We have also recently successfully completed projects for North Lanarkshire Council and partners in the Study Area, namely:
· “The White House, Kilsyth” (2000) a re-use study to test the feasibility of developing a Grade A listed building for cultural and heritage visitor attraction sitting close to the Antonine Wall;
· “North Lanarkshire CCTV Provision” (2001) for North Lanarkshire CCTV Ltd, evaluating the effectiveness of the use and delivery of CCTV in the area. The project focussed on community benefits and social inclusion dimension.
Scottish Agricultural College
1.2.8 The mission of SAC is to enhance the sustainability of rural areas and communities and the viability of the industries on which they depend.
1.2.9 SAC is involved in rural development and land-use issues throughout the UK and the rest of the world, in an educational, research and consultancy capacity. The success of SAC has been founded on a UK wide extension network dating back many years which ensures that SAC maintains a relationship with, and an understanding of, rural communities. SAC has three main centres of study; Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Auchincruive, Ayrshire.
1.2.10 Staff would be drawn from SAC’s Management Division, which provides a wealth of expertise in agricultural, resource and recreational management issues, with national and international experience of delivering policy advice. SAC’s network of Advisory Offices (with extensive databases of landowners and managers) would allow easy access to consultations with the land managers, and an in-depth understanding of their issues and concerns in relation to access issues in North Lanarkshire.
1.2.11 SAC also has expertise in public participation (with Karen Smyth having specific expertise in participatory research in countryside recreation). Recent relevant projects include:
· Public participation techniques used in Stirling Town Community Paths Project with Halcrow;
· Landowner Focus Group Discussions used in Stranraer and Dumfries Local Path Development Projects with Halcrow;
· Constraints on Access to Informal Recreation in the Urban Fringe. This PhD research investigated why certain groups ‘under participate’ in informal countryside recreation. It involved extensive review of the main constraints to participation, and focus groups with disadvantaged communities to examine social inclusion issues in recreational access.
· Hill Sheep Farming and Environmental Impacts, involving conflict resolution workshops for farmers, landowners and conservationists;
· Public Participation in the Planning Process, involving the use of participatory methods to investigate levels of public participation in the planning process across a range of rural communities;
· Participatory Research into the Role of Women in Rural Development. Focusing on women, this study investigated the sensitive issue of stress in rural areas through focus groups and interviews;
· A Study of the use of urban parks by ethnic minority groups. Publication by Dr Karen Smyth on research conducted in the London Borough of Newham.
· SAC are involved in a number of participatory research studies, such as the Uptake of Innovative Hill Land Use Systems.
1.3 Background to the Study
1.3.1 The recently completed North Lanarkshire Public Access Strategy (2001) identified the huge potential for increasing countryside recreation and tourism opportunities in the Kelvin Valley. The Strategy identified a large supply of access and places of interest that can generate attraction for a path network, including the Antonine Wall, Forth and Clyde Canal, a dense network of paths and recent initiatives to improve access such as at Dumbreck Marsh. Couple this resource with the heritage of Kilsyth as an Old Burgh, and access activity in the Kelvin Valley is considered to be very promising. There are obvious benefits to both the local economy, to health and social inclusion needs of the surrounding area (there being one SIP (Social Inclusion Partnership) in Kilsyth) and also significantly, to the local tourism industry.
1.3.2 It is clear that a Development and Implementation Plan for Access in the Kelvin Valley would certainly meet the objectives and vision “to meet the needs of the local community and visitors alike. Maximising the potential benefits of sustainable rural tourism development associated with access provision”. This is mirrored in the general high level of interest in access development in recent times through community and organisational activities in the area.
1.3.3 In all cases that involve access and access development there is a strong emphasis on community involvement and landowner agreement. Without these elements any proposals or implementation would be poorly planned. Fundamentally, our approach to community involvement and landowner discussion is both inclusive and original in design and method. We have trained and polished our proposed methods in this field over a large number of similar projects and seek to present further value for money using innovative techniques. With a population of around 50,000 including the Cumbernauld hinterland, the Study has good potential to reach out to a wide and diverse range of people. There are also great opportunities for North Lanarkshire Council to demonstrate public accountability and partnership working both within the Kelvin Valley and across council boundaries to East Kirkintilloch and Twechar within East Dunbartonshire.
1.3.4 We would also bear in mind the emerging Land Reform Bill containing new proposals for access. Whilst the Bill continues to move through Parliament, we will endeavour to tailor the study approach and method to account for the likely implications of the Bill in future access planning.
1.4 The Key Objectives
1.4.1 The key objectives or “determining issues” in a Development and Implementation Plan for Access in the Kelvin Valley are understood to be:
· To build on the opportunities identified in previous recent work;
· To guide access development in the Kelvin Valley within the context of current development proposals and opportunities; and
· To harness the potential for sustainable tourism through recreation access in the area (this being the strongest focus for the work but taking cognisance of social inclusion and health elements to shape proposals).
1.4.2 The key objectives required in the output are:
· Map the landscape within the Kelvin Valley encompassing development opportunity, proposals and aspirations;
· Engagement with land managers to gather their views;
· A Development Plan including a series of initiatives aimed at guiding access provision with regard to a broad range of objectives and policies each having a role to play in access;
· Local consultation on the Development Plan including non-countryside or access users; and
· An Action Plan stating projects, costs, phases, responsibilities and priorities.
1.4.3 Throughout the remainder of the proposal, our approach, method and proposed “deliverables” are presented. We make reference to our past experiences at points to illustrate our method and approach in action.
2.1 Method Overview
2.1.1 The purpose of this Chapter is to indicate, in broad terms, the proposed approach to the Study and to describe the necessary tasks and the steps involved in each. Where appropriate, specific examples and cases are cited in support of our approach.
2.1.2 The Brief sets out clearly the need to tackle the Project within five stages, each separate in their focus, but inter-linked in their achievement. In many cases the Stages overlap. Stages and broadly proposed tasks are as follows:
· Stage 1: Inception Meeting followed by appraisal and review with mapping;
· Stage 2: Exploring landowner issues of ownership and in principled agreement;
· Stage 3: Preparation of development plan and broad proposals;
· Stage 4: Gathering comment on the proposals / community participation followed by macro-scale feedback;
· Stage 5: Action Plan for Implementation, including detailed projects;
2.1.3 The Consultants will also recommend appropriate approaches to future maintenance and sustaining further community involvement where appropriate. This may take the form of a short appraisal of techniques used in the study, which could assist the client in applying the approach to other North Lanarkshire settlements.
2.1.4 The Method will also be linked closely to the Brief requirement for reporting and meeting stages at relevant times.
2.2 Stage 1: Inception, Appraisal, Review and Mapping
2.2.1 From the Consultant's previous experience on other similar projects, a Study Inception Meeting plays a valuable role in ensuring that both Client Group and Consultant understand and agree on all key issues relating to the project and proposed method from the outset. This process enables a brief Inception Report to be produced to take account of any changes to content, timing and specific outputs as well as subtleties of approach that the Client may require, or which the Consultant may suggest. It also enables programme and reporting dates to be agreed, information to be made available and for relevant contacts to be agreed. This would be undertaken at the outset.
2.2.2 We would carry out a rapid appraisal of the area, noting landscape, location of key attractions, views and eateries/pubs. We would also pay attention to road hierarchies, safety considerations and car parking. A general feel for the area will assist in focusing on the appropriate form of path networks to be considered. This would be enhanced by a desk based study of relevant documentation as listed in the Study Brief including Access Strategy, Economic Development Reports, Health, Social Inclusion and Community Plans, Transport Strategies and of other documents produced by organisations in the area. Specific attention will be paid to the findings of the “Central Scotland Forest, Millennium Link Canal Corridor, Strategy and Opportunities” report 1999.
2.2.3 We will draw on the 1999 report to review the potential for access initiatives in the area and appraise the existing provision at key locations, such as Dumbreck Marsh and at Kilsyth. We would consult, among others (e.g key organisations SNH, Enterprise Company, Historic Scotland, Tourist Board) locally based trusts and bodies including British Waterways, Antonine Walkway Trust and the Forth and Clyde Canal Trust. These consultations would be an initial phase of discussion, which we would carry through the remaining stages of the study.
2.2.4 We would identify potential significant future developments (e.g. new housing /tourism development opportunities) - this may offer the potential for seeking Planning Agreements (Section 75) / contributions from developers for future access. We would also briefly review existing information regarding the socio-economic profile of local residents around the towns of Kilsyth and north Cumbernauld as issues relating to social exclusion and economic deprivation could in part, influence the selection and specification of certain paths in a network.
2.2.5 As much of the information already exists and bearing in mind the previous consultations engaged in preparation of the Access Strategy, the team propose to use the momentum gathered through the Strategy consultation process. We would strongly consider engaging with the contributors to that exercise prior to further detailed consultation, using a proposed user group questionnaire:
2.2.6 The questionnaire would primarily be used to illicit specific details on specific path alignments, current conditions, specific user group needs and ideas for linkages etc. to allow more detailed expression from knowledgeable groups likely to be familiar with access and the consultation process. The questionnaire could also address some of the broader issues that were discussed in the strategy preparation (such as the overall key issues or constraints for access in the Kelvin Valley).
2.2.7 A short questionnaire (A4 page double sided) with attached Study area map would be sent (return freepost) to representatives of interest and user groups (BHS, SERC, riding stables, CTC, cycling clubs and walking clubs and other groups (including Schools, Over 50’s Clubs, Health groups. Questions would ask about local paths, conditions, needs and ideas for new links. These would be used to expand the potential path network and also help gauge the local demand for access.
2.2.8 Drawing these tasks above together, a “picture” of the current situation and potential opportunities emerging will be composed and mapped at 1:10,000. This will be illustrated with pictures, extracts from reports and references to key discussions undertaken. The mapping will enable discussion with relevant landowners in Stage 2 to be focussed on specific ideas or principles. The results will be delivered at an interim meeting with the Clients.
2.3 Stage 2: Exploring landowner issues of ownership and in principled agreement
2.3.1 Tasks undertaken in this stage will be led by SAC and relate mainly to landowner issues and outputs. With secure access to their Advisory Office network of clients, SAC will be invaluable in confirming land holdings and mapping of these and this will assist in progressing with structured interviews with owners likely to be affected by proposals.
2.3.2 In order for access to be secured at the end of the day, landowners will need to be comfortable with route alignments, nature and intensity of proposed routes.
All major landowners and farmers in the area would be consulted to gain their views and to discuss issues in more detail on the existing access situation, route alignments, potential route options, land use and management requirements.
Farmer Focus Group
2.3.3 Farmers and landowners would be invited to attend an informal Focus Group. It is proposed that a short evening event be held. The main purpose of the event would be to determine the landowner’s preparedness to allow access on their land. Discussion would be of a general focus based on issues identified from Stage 2 above. With regard to any detailed proposals and specifications we shall conduct detailed structured interviews with selected and relevant owners which will be apparent upon completion of the Focus Group.
2.3.4 We will visit the selected owners soon thereafter to follow up on any principled view they have, ideally to enable a positive response for access which will enable proposals to be carried forward to future Stages. We note that the Clients will wish to confirm the content and structure of the interview prior to its undertaking.
2.4 Stage 3: Preparation of development plan and broad proposals
2.4.1 The findings of Stage 1 and 2 will form the main body of the Development Plan proposed. Therefore, the views of organisations, landowners and of the team’s knowledge and observations of market trends, initiatives and aspirations will be presented. The Development Plan will be based on mapping with graphics and supporting information as relevant. The key will be to enable the Development Plan to be “transportable” and “editable” as this will be the main vehicle to be used in Stage 4 of consultation with the wider community. Changes would be expected following the community consultation and therefore initial ideas must be thought provoking yet clear, based on a thorough consultation in Stages 2 and 3.
2.4.2 In order to add value, linkages to other council areas (e.g. East Dunbartonshire projects) or attractions, places of public use will be shown indicatively, perhaps with more than one choice of alignment thereby encouraging participation and response from consultees in Stage 4. Early thoughts from the Team on signage (locations, types, purpose for example) will be presented as “think boxes” which again seek to stimulate thought and choice through participation in the following Stage.
2.4.3 The Development Plan will be the centre point for discussion at an interim meeting with the Client. The mapping will be portable to enable information to be viewed clearly.
2.5 Stage 4: Gathering comment on the proposals / community participation followed by macro-scale feedback
2.5.1 From the Consultants’ experience in recent studies of a similar nature, the significance of communicating the message to a broader audience than just ‘the usual players’ has encouraged the Consultants to generate a great deal of original thought into the approach to consultation. The Consultants propose to undertake four separate strands of consultation. These are as follows:
Task 4a: Mail Drop, News Release and Posters
2.5.2 Clearly there may be limited knowledge and awareness of the project amongst the general public at this stage. It would be beneficial to “open up” consultations to the general public to draw out further issues and ideas based on the Development Plan produced at the end of Stage 3. This would enable interested members of the public, who may not necessarily be members of any local organisation or group, to participate. It would also stimulate thought on path issues not necessarily relating to recreation – e.g. Safe routes to school, commuting or ‘functional’ path needs.
2.5.3 Colourful posters promoting the Study, illustrated with the Development Plan (mapping) used as the centre piece, would be displayed at local outlets (post offices, library, supermarket etc.). At the same time an extended news article could be drawn up for local press (free distribution editions) with inserts of the mapping also made freely available. Both these methods of advertisement would encourage feedback on the Development Plan. The advertisement would also invite interested residents to one of three proposed Open Day events described in Task 4c.
2.5.4 Responses to this task would assist in establishing local demand for access and in identifying “non usual players”. The consultants could have a wider audience with which to consult and further detailed follow up could be arranged with selected respondents.
2.5.5 This approach worked particularly well in the recent Penicuik Local Path Network Study where over 100 responses from members of the public helped extend the study to the wider local community and followed the consultation process through to later workshop event to confirm priorities for path projects.
Task 4b: Public Exhibition with Prize Draw
2.5.6 A further angle with which to attract public feedback through other media will be a static exhibition. The exhibition will display the Development Plan with descriptions of the project method used to date and key findings highlighted. The exhibition will be large format display boards with colourful graphics. Three separate locations will be selected to house the boards simultaneously (over a week long period). Ideally the locations will be a community hall or busy public place (supermarket foyer) of the same location that is proposed in Task 4c for the Open Day events in order to encourage people to return to the same venue for the Open Day event. Local people (all sections of the community) could raise specific detail on paths, issues, aspirations and deficiencies. This method enables the Study to be transparent and allows an early start to be made on follow up detailed consultations with specific individuals.
2.5.7 We would also like to encourage participation in this element of the plan development process by attracting people with a prize draw. As people respond to the consultation on a Freepost return card (on which they will be invited to comment and leave a contact address) the consultants will draw out from those returned. We propose that tickets for entry to a local attraction and a voucher for outdoor goods be the prizes. Further discussion with the client and local suppliers could be investigated. Furthermore, the choice of supplier for prizes may be a useful sponsor for wider elements of the Implementation Plan (e.g. sponsorship, marketing etc.).
Task 4c: Open Day Drop In (3 Venues)
2.5.8 It is proposed that at three locations (Kilsyth, Croy and Queenzieburn or North Cumbernauld around Dullatur or Westerwood) we shall use centres (e.g. supermarket foyer, libraries, and community halls) as a drop in venue for one full day (possibly 9am to 7pm). The Consultants would manage the event.
2.5.9 Interested people throughout the day would be invited to view and comment/mark up a large-scale version of the draft Development Plan, taking ten minutes to contribute. Blank smaller scale copies of plans left would be left aside for people to take away and return to Halcrow (Freepost) thereby having the opportunity to enter the Prize Draw as well. People will be invited (through the local news release and poster described in Task 4a) to drop into the host location, to register local knowledge and annotate the large plan to show paths, issues and ideas. This is a stage of the method where local assistance would be welcome particularly in being present to facilitate participants.
2.5.10 Local individuals’ own thoughts and ideas on paths could be publicly viewed and people could see transparently what ideas and issues are emerging. The use of a larger scale plan would allow specific details to be identified at an early stage. This task generates local debate in advance of the Macro Scale Presentation (Task 4d).
Task 4d: Macro Scale Public Presentation of Findings
2.5.11 Shortly following the previous Tasks 4a to 4c we would convene a collective meeting to be held in a large hall. We would run the Presentation of Findings twice in the day (afternoon, then evening) to allow a wide range of participants to attend.
The Presentation would display the collective results of feedback during the consultation period and updates/edits to the Development Plan would be highlighted. We would then encourage further participation from attendees by asking them to “vote” on priority issues. An example of this method is provided in Appendix D, which was successfully used in recent work in Penicuik. This was accomplished using sticky coloured dots and participants were encouraged to add further comment using post it notes.
2.5.13 We would also take the opportunity to confirm the successful winners of the Prize Draw following the Presentation. Priorities and comments from the event would then be used to confirm and finalise the Development Plan, which will be the basis of discussion at the next programmed client meeting.
2.6 Stage 5: Action Plan for Implementation, including detailed projects
2.6.1 Following finalisation of the Development Plan, we would draw together an Action Plan for Implementation. This would be detailed and would recommend priorities and timescales for the implementation of the network. The priorities would be as confirmed from public consultation and according to the Teams judgement on feasibility given landowner discussions and resourcing for improvements.
2.6.2 The Action Plan would set out projects not only based on path improvements, but also on other issues such as promotion, signposting, demonstration projects, activity events to encourage wider community involvement in the physical implementation of the network (this has been a strong element of the wider implementation work envisaged for the Penicuik Path Network as a Landfill Tax-funded charity has been formed locally to implement the concept of a long-distance walkway along the River Esk.). This would be based on practicalities of landowner agreement, local demand and strategic significance of paths. Recommendations as to various bodies involved and their differing potential roles and responsibilities will be provided.
2.6.3 The Consultants will also provide an assessment of development opportunities relating to development planning / contributions in future planning.
2.6.4 Advice would be provided on suitable funding sources (e.g. Local Sponsorship, SEL, Landfill Tax, Lottery, BT Fieldfare etc.). Opportunities for paths to be drawn into the existing health and/or social inclusion initiatives running in Lanarkshire would also be considered.
2.6.5 The Action Plan would itself seek to be clear, concise and portable. We would set out projects based on reference to the Development Plan. Details of each project would include indicative costs, key partners for implementation and recommended priority/phasing within a 3-year programme.
2.6.6 Details for 6 priority projects would be investigated with greater attention. We would conduct on-site field surveys at specific path issues (e.g. drainage, bridge crossings) or with specific individuals were there to be other wider access issues involved. An example of recent outputs can be provided. In all cases, the client will be involved in the determination and selection of the tender ready projects. Each detailed project would be presented in a “site manual” which will give a location plan of the project, a zoomed-in plan of the site itself, a dossier on characteristics such as landownership and opinion of owner, the awareness of sensitivities (e.g. protected woodland or SSSI etc) and a detailed bill of quantities required to implement the project.
A technical drawing of specific specifications (e.g. gates, bridges, surfacing etc) will accompany the dossier. Fundamentally the projects will be presented in a way that enables contractors to take the documents directly into the field
Management and Maintenance
2.6.7 Recommendations would be provided on maintenance and management requirements of routes. This would include anticipated maintenance works with estimated costs and how it could be implemented. The Consultants have wide experience of various options such as ‘community rangering’ and ‘adopt a path’ schemes from elsewhere and would draw upon this experience and output from consultations when forming recommendations.
Promotion and Publicity
2.6.8 Consideration would be given to promotion and publicity of the network and how local natural history and heritage interpretation could be developed.
2.6.9 Summaries of land manager and community feedback will complete the Implementation Plan report and combined with the approved Development Plan, the clients will have a practical and portable tool with which to progress access initiatives in the Kelvin Valley.
2.6.10 We will provide a short appraisal of our methodology and results in order to guide the client as to the appropriateness of each technique used which would assist in any similar Development and Implementation Plan required for other areas of North Lanarkshire in the future.
2.7.1 Figure 2 indicates the Reporting Stages. Close and informal contact would be maintained throughout the course of the Study with the Client Group, which would complement the working papers and meetings described. However, there is flexibility and reporting dates would be discussed and agreed with the Client Group at the Inception Meeting.