From the 5th to the 7th April 2022, the PERFECT partners were once again able to meet in person to share experiences and visit green infrastructure sites. Cornwall Council hosted the Town & Country Planning Association, Somogy County Government and Bratislava Karlova Ves Municipality and their stakeholders.
The visit started with a Partner Steering Committee meeting led by the Lead Partner. This was followed by a presentation from Julia Thrift, Director of Healthier Place-making at the TCPA on the links between green infrastructure and health inequalities. Partners were then divided into two groups to discuss the experiences of the different partners in this area, in particular how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected how green spaces are accessed by different groups.
After the close of the workshop, partners took part in a walking tour of the Coosebean Valley, led by Chris Waddle, the ranger who looks after the area. This green space in a residential area of Truro was poorly maintained and had little use but has been transformed into a much-loved walking route, with woodchip paths, access to the river and diverse environments.
On the second day, the group travelled to West Carclaze Garden Village where they learnt about how the new community of 1,500 homes is being built. 350 of the 500 acre site will be managed parkland, and there is a focus on making it a ‘community of gardens’, with varying green spaces throughout the development to encourage outdoor living. The group saw the first houses being delivered on the site, which will be occupied in the next few months and walked across the green bridge that links the different parts of the development.
The group also heard about how green infrastructure, including a wildflower corridor, and public art are being used to regenerate St Austell town centre and encourage more people to visit in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was interesting to hear about the cumulative and immediate impact of small scale, relatively inexpensive interventions.
After lunch, the group travelled to the Eden Project, a charity based in Cornwall which aims to get people engaged with the outside world and heard about the project they are doing with the local community which includes activities for children, social prescribing and training programmes for homeless people. Gill Mulholland, the Eden Project’s Education Specialist, then talked about their programmes with schools to encourage outdoor learning and nature-based play. Gill works with schools to help them reimagining how school grounds can be used and how lessons can be taught outside.
Finally, on Thursday morning, the partners visited two schools which were part of Cornwall Council’s PERFECT pilot project on greening school playgrounds, inspired by the City of Amsterdam’s programme and were given a tour by some of the school children. The two schools were in different situations and had taken different approaches but the benefit to the children of the greenery in both schools was clear and the children were very proud of the plants and green areas that they had helped to design and create.