Improving the quality of our Place
Last month's Blog focused on People, this month Kevin Rush, talks about our Place.
Our Place is one of our greatest assets.
Glasgow City Region is one of the largest regions in the UK. Well-connected globally with access to three international airports and nationally to extensive rail and road infrastructure, Glasgow, one of Europe's most vibrant cities, lies at its heart.
The region is home to superb assets which are driving our creative, business and innovation economies. Amongst these are internationally acclaimed universities and research institutes, our three emerging world-class Innovation Districts and Glasgow's International Financial Services District, a base for 30,000 of the region's jobs and one of the top 15 of Western Europe's best performing financial centres.
Our tourism economy is strong, with impressive visitor numbers, a successful record in attracting business conferences across Europe and a strong reputation for hosting high profile cultural and sporting events. Glasgow is the second most visited destination for shopping in the UK after London. Last year we launched a regional tourism strategy pledging to boost tourist numbers to the west of Scotland by an additional 1 million over the next five years.
Our region, an area of 3,346 square kilometres, features extensive greenspace and many areas of natural outstanding beauty, a number of local towns and a sophisticated urban centre. In fact, our 'dear green place' has the second highest percentage of greenspace of the other ten most populated cities in the UK.
Building on these strengths, to meet our ambitious growth targets and compete with similar European regions, a series of actions relating to Place are being taken forward as part of our Economic Strategy. These include activities to maximise our land space; deliver more and better housing; drive more inward investmentand better transport connections; improve digital connectivity and make our region a more attractive place to live.
Work is underway to substantially increase the number and mix of new homes across the region - to support the needs of existing residents and the future growth and make-up of our population. And in the next few months, we will bring forward a new strategy for Housing.
We have instigated a closer collaboration with our key utility providers. This will help support the delivery of our City Deal projects and enable us to better understand the investment plans and constraints facing telecommunications, water, power, gas and transportation providers and consider how we can better work together to maximise plans and deliver enhanced services to residents. This compliments work underway on regional digital connectivity to support the implementation of new digital infrastructure and improve the access, speed and affordability of broadband, fibre, wireless and other related mobile digital technologies for Glasgow City Region residents and businesses.
Transport connectivity is fundamental to our plans. The ability for people and goods to move effectively and efficiently is vital to growing and sustaining our economy, improving access to employment, education, healthcare and leisure. We have also set high targets for the re-use of vacant and derelict land. The £1 billion City Deal investment from the UK and Scottish Governments is being used already to deliver massive improvement in transport infrastructure and to unlock unused sites in key locations for development and new housing.
Improving the environmental quality of the region will support the health and wellbeing of our residents and our economic competitiveness. This month we will launch plans for a new regional Green Network made up of 500 miles of walking and cycling routes. The ambition is for no resident to be more than five minutes' walk from the Green Network, with outdoor areas more easily accessible and high quality multi-functional greenspaces joined up across the region, from cycle paths to allotments, wildlife habitats to urban rain gardens.
To realise this ambition, a blueprint or map of the proposed network has been created, connecting where people live to their workplaces and the region's 'green assets' such as the Cunningar Loop and Pollok Country Park. With 60% of the proposed network already in place, the blueprint will guide where future effort and resources should be targeted. It will be promoted to partners, including local authorities, with the aim of embedding the required actions in plans, strategies and work programmes.
Our eight Councils also recently participated in a new Climate Ready Clyde Initiative which is looking at risks facing the region and will explore how we build resilience to climate change.
Where we spend our time and the quality of our Place has a big impact on health and wellbeing. Better understanding the existing and potential strengths of our Place is helping us to make the right decisions and target resource where it is needed most. Improving the quality of Place will help to grow our economy and make the region, the best Place to live, work and do business.
Kevin Rush is the Director of Regional Economic Growth for Glasgow City Region.
Read April's Blog: A Partnership for People
Read March's Blog: City Region of Innovation
Read February's Blog: Glasgow City Region progresses at pace