Strategic planning for countryside recreation: The South Wales recreation resources initiative

Alister Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The survey and analysis phase of the project is ongoing. A further year's survey of six sites has been collected for 1994/95 and amendments/revisions to the databases have been completed (1998). This is relatively straight-forward and non-controversial. The challenge for the project is to distribute the survey findings to the various agencies and local authorities to help shape management policies, strategies and development plans. Important progress has already been made with several training days on accessing the information, as well as presentations across Wales with the Countryside Council for Wales. The Steering Group, comprising the regional bodies implementing and shaping policy, have a key role in this process. Its first priority has been to try to link new grant aid structures through the Countryside Council for Wales, with defined targets requiring partners to follow the approved methodology outlined in this paper. This co-ordinated and strategic approach provides the basis for the continuation of extensive market research to feed into the policy-making process (Fig. 3). The fundamental problem to overcome, however, is the establishment of new mechanisms to enable survey information to be fed directly into the statutory planning process. The improved status of countryside strategies as a statutory requirement and planning tool is seen as necessary to secure viable and long term funding for strategic recreation surveying and to break down the barriers caused by entrenched agency insularity and perceived competition. Furthermore, the Countryside Council for Wales has an important role to play in guiding their partners to consider a more regional dimension in their policy-making processes. The members of the South Wales Steering Group have recognized the benefits of co-operation within this project. Many other agencies and individuals have contributed to the data collection aspects of the project but it will take time to bring in new organizations such as the National Trust, Wildlife Trusts and the new unitary authorities. This becomes all the more important in the current climate of ad hoc strategy formation, particularly as evidenced by recent local government reorganization in 1996. The strategy response again represents a further missed opportunity. Short term political and financial interests have still prevailed in the new authorities, and strategies have been hastily produced and localized without reference to the wider regional pattern, data and public involvement. Empirical data were not used even though they now exist. This has a negative effect on the development plan process which, increasingly, has to address issues of amenity, recreational needs and provision as primary matters for consideration (Department of the Environment, 1991). The combined use of databases and survey evidence from this project and its translation to other regions of Wales (Mid and North) will help the management and planning for such purposes. The production of a South Wales regional strategy is still in its formative stages but the principal point made in this article is that a strategic approach is now being adopted by the South Wales region of the Countryside Council for Wales to address the nature of recreation provision and demand. The challenges of establishing collaboration and improved communication to achieve joint agreements on aims, objectives and resultant policies, particularly in the new local authorities, could be a protracted and difficult process. There is evidence of a spirit of co-operation and purpose among the Steering Group guiding this project, which suggests that the institutional barriers may not be insurmountable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-897
Number of pages7
JournalRegional Studies
Volume32
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes

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