To consider the report of the Chief Officer (Parks and Countryside) that provides illustrated examples of how parks and green spaces are already helping to address climate change issues and in doing so enhance the experience of people who visit. In particular, the ambitious plan to create 50 hectares of woodland each year over 25 years to 2045 on council land is highlighted along with the key benefits that this will bring.
The Chief Officer (Parks and Countryside) submitted a report that provides illustrated examples of how parks and green spaces are already helping to address climate change issues and in doing so enhance the experience of people who visit. In particular, the ambitious plan to create 50 hectares of woodland each year over 25 years to 2045 on council land is highlighted along with the key benefits that this will bring.
The following were in attendance:
- Antony Stringwell, Recreational Development Officer, Parks and Countryside
- Simon Frosdick, Business Development Manager, Parks and Countryside
- Mike Kinnaird, Development Manager, Parks and Countryside
The Recreational Development Officer introduced the report, the key developments set out, their benefits in the following areas:
· Parks and green space management, including:
o Relaxed mowing
o Pollinator friendly habitats
o Cemetery maintenance
· Parks and green space developments, including:
o Investment opportunities
o Ponds and wetlands
· Tree and woodland planting
Members discussed a number of matters, including:
· Relaxed mowing. Whilst the benefits of relaxed mowing and wild flower meadows were recognised and supported by Members, it was requested that Members be provided with real time updates on relaxed mowing sites in their wards, noting that some sites have been subject to a significant number of complaints. In response, Members were advised that the team is currently working on a comprehensive communications plan for relaxed mowing across Leeds, which will be circulated to all members and published on website for residents and visitors. Members suggested that messaging boards across the city could also be used for communications around relaxed mowing and the environmental benefits.
· A more sensitive approach to relaxed mowing on cemeteries. Related to the above discussion, Members reported specific complaints in relation to cemeteries. It was noted that a more sensitive approach is necessary for such an emotive topic, with clear communications to families of the Council’s strategy.
· Quality of trees planted. Members provided examples of tree planting projects within their wards that had not been successful due to the small saplings becoming damaged in busy public areas, and were advised that the upcoming Leeds Local Plan Update will provide an opportunity to revisit policies relating to tree planting and wider climate emergency priorities. Members were also encouraged to contribute to the current Local Plan consultation.
· Utilising grassland on housing estates across the city. Members commented on the lack of access to green spaces in the most deprived inner-city wards of Leeds. Officers offered to circulate information relating to grassland mapping across the city to Members outside of the meeting. Related to this, Members stated that more investment is needed for developing green areas within Council owned housing estates, which could be utilised for biodiversity projects where appropriate. The Chair requested an update from Housing Leeds at a future meeting on this matter.
· Use of harmful weed killers. Members reported complaints from local residents around the careless application of harmful weed killers, such as Glyphosate, to grass in parks and roadside verges in Leeds. It was requested that a further update on this matter be provided at a future meeting.
a) That the contents of the report, along with Members’ comments, be noted.
b) That the updates requested be added to the Committee’s work programme.