Annual Conference 2013 Report

The South Pennines: a landscape of opportunity was the theme of the Pennine Prospects Annual Conference 2013, which brought together over 100 delegates from across the South Pennines and beyond.

Pam Warhurst, Chair of Pennine Prospects, sent out a rallying call to put the South Pennines on the map, when she welcomed everyone to Rochdale Town Hall. She told delegates that the South Pennines is a vibrant landscape and a people’s landscape with much to offer.

Pam’s presentation can be downloaded here (4,269KB PDF).

The keynote speaker, Dr Michael Schwarze-Rodrian, gave an inspirational presentation about the Emscher Landscape Park, in Germany’s Ruhr Valley; one of the most polluted and environmentally devastated areas in Europe. The project has brought together seven neighboring regions and 53 cities across an area that is home to over 5 million people since 1988 and is still ongoing.

Michael highlighted the long time scales needed to rejuvenate a post-industrial landscape and outlined four guiding principles: transformation, which sometimes means people have to change the way they act or think; recycling, including existing buildings and sites; renewing the economy, which is vital to the rejuvenation of any area; and co-operation between towns and cities. The Emscher Park provides a shared vision for working between settlements and across the landscape.

As part of the Emscher Landscape Park project there have been a number of creative projects, such as the ‘slinky bridge’; a colourful footbridge designed by an artist and built by an engineer and ‘Still A40’, a day of celebration on which up to three million people shared their culture and food on a major highway.

Michael’s presentation can be downloaded here (15,908KB PDF). The images from the ‘Still A40’ event can also be downloaded here (5,910KB PDF).

Paul Osborne, Programme Manager for Sustrans, set the scene for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, which passes through the South Pennines in July 2014. He encouraged the conference delegates to consider the legacy of the race now for maximum impact. There is already a strong cycling base on which to build. The National Cycle Network, started in 1995 now has 13,400 miles of cycle routes, and continues to grow, as does participation in walking and cycling.

Paul suggested a ‘cotton-wool trail’ linking Lancashire and Yorkshire through the South Pennines.

Paul’s presentation can be downloaded here (2,503KB PDF).

Walter Menzies, Manchester and Pennine Waterways Partnership, introduced the work of the recently created Canal and River Trust, a charity that took over the work of British Waterways in the largest status shift of its kind in UK history.
He explained that the historic waterways were the arteries of the world’s first industrial revolution but in the UK now there are 34,000 licensed boats; that’s more than in the industrial revolution. The Trust is responsible for 2,000 miles of waterways and has more listed buildings than any organisation, apart from the National Trust or Church of England.

By moving to charitable status the Trust has been able to attract more volunteers and new sources of income, including from the private sector. Walter outlined the central objectives of the Manchester and Pennines Waterways Partnership: to ensure the canals provide benefits for all; to engage more people, from all sectors; and to put forward ambitious plans for the canals.

Walter’s presentation can be downloaded here (1,433KB PDF).

Jason Freezer, from Visit England, highlighted the scale of the visitor economy in England, which is currently worth £100 billion a year and provides two million jobs. It is an industry that cannot be out-sourced off-shore.

Tourism is an expanding industry. It has 5% growth year on year and is now in Defra’s top ten priorities for the first time. It employs more people in rural areas than agriculture. He suggested marketing the South Pennines as a recognised destination and creating a destination management plan.

Jason’s presentation can be downloaded here (2,363KB PDF).