Falkirk Council signed its Concordat in 2013.
Falkirk’s Development Plan Update
Falkirk Council is preparing a new Local Development Plan (LDP) for 2014-34 which includes proposal for green networks alongside new housing, economic development and infrastructure developments. The Plan is currently undergoing an Examination by Scottish Government Reporters.
To support the LDP, the Council is preparing a suite of 16 Supplementary Guidance (SG) notes, which will provide more detailed guidance and implementation. Several of the notes will support delivery of green networks.
Falkirk Greenspace Initiative
From 1993 to 2013, Falkirk Council and Central Scotland Forest Trust worked together through the Falkirk Greenspace Initiative to transform the image and environment of the Falkirk Council area. Over twenty years, the initiative saw 1.3 million trees planted, over 260km of paths created or upgraded, and the restoration of derelict sites. The initiative has been recognised in a number of awards:
- Overall Winner, 2012 Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning
- Shortlisted, Exemplary Rural Planning category, 2012/13 RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence
- Gold Award, 2014 Scottish Green Apple Environment Awards
The Helix is a £43m Big Lottery funded project which has transformed 350 hectares of under-used land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a thriving urban greenspace. It includes the iconic Kelpies, which have been promoted across the world. Completed in 2014, the Helix was driven by a partnership between Falkirk Council, Scottish Canals and Central Scotland Forest Trust which has successfully connected sixteen communities, created a living landmark and a world class visitor destination. The Helix project has been recognised in the following:
- Silver Award, 2014 Scottish Green Apple Environment Awards
- Winner, Best Environment Project category of the 2014 National Lottery Awards
- Winner, Saltire Society 2014 Civil Engineering Award, presented in association with Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Scotland
Falkirk Greenspace: A Strategy for our Green Network
In 2013, Falkirk Council amalgamated a number of strategies to create an overarching strategy for the green network in the area. This aims to build on the successful greenspace delivery that has taken place over the last 20 years.
Through its delivery, the green network strategy will connect areas of natural, semi-natural and man-made open spaces within our towns and villages, and create links into the wider countryside. 9 thematic priorities focus greenspace activity over the next 5 years:
- Economic development and placemaking
- Tackling vacant and derelict land
- Outdoor access
- Community growing
- Education services and schools
- Water environment
Falkirk Council is now working with a range of partners to deliver the new greenspace strategy. Several access projects are nearing completion thanks to additional support from Sustrans and other funding partners:
Dorrator Bridge and six mile long River Carron Loop path network linking Larbert, Stenhousemuir, Camelon Mungal, Bainsford and New Carron villages to the Helix project.
Forth & Clyde Canal towpath upgrading from Lock 16 to the Falkirk Wheel completing the link between the Helix and the Falkirk Wheel.
Tamfourhill Community Link completing a missing link from Falkirk Wheel and Tamfourhill into the extensive network of paths in South Falkirk.
Blacknesss foreshore path improving access along a section of the John Muir Way and reconnecting the village of Blackness with Bo’ness by a high quality off-road path with fantastic views across the Forth.
Making Space for Outdoor Learning
Falkirk Council is making closer ties between its Education Services and the environment agenda by delivering outdoor learning in local greenspaces and expanding its successful school orchard project.
Pupils from local schools and nurseries regularly take part in outdoor learning sessions, come rain or shine, in the Forestry Commission Scotland-managed woodland at Forth Valley Royal Hospital near Larbert. The innovative greenspace improvements here have been shortlisted for a Nature of Scotland awards ceremony in November 2014.
Larbert High School continues to make good use of Carron Dams Local Nature Reserve for a variety of lessons including PE, English, Art and Science.
Falkirk Council is keen to roll out this approach across the area, working with other NHS sites, and creating at least one exemplar outdoor learning site for each High School cluster.