Last week Thursday the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP) scheme held its first and long-awaited conference. This event was very well attended: with over 60 people we filled up The Maltings in Ely and had some very lively discussions going.
I would, first of all, like to thank everybody who attended. The good number and mixture of representatives from a wide range of local authorities, agencies, charities and community groups and other organisations meant that the two workshops held were very productive.
The two main presentations – by Kate Collins (Sheils Flynn) presenting the results of the Landscape Character Assessment for the area, and Rachael Brown (Cambridgeshire ACRE) those of the Audience & Access Planning work done – were also very well received, judging by the comments made on the day.
Good feedback given
Cambridgeshire ACRE has been able to organise this event thanks to the excellent help before and during the day given by our four summer placement volunteers (Peter, Anna, Jessica and Chris). The overall impression left by the participants in the feedback forms was that they found this event useful and informative; see e.g. the below graph (where 1 means poor and 5 means excellent):
Some quotes from the audience:
Really well structured and organised event. Excellent balance between presentations; thank you.
The presentations gave an excellent base for the workshops to explore. Good networking and sharing ideas.
Interesting presentations. Fascinating interactions round the table, much better than just being talked to. Everyone here has different interest /views
Useful information coming out of the day
We are currently going through the mountain of information written down during the workshops, as comments left on the feedback sheets, display comments sheets or on the logo voting sheets. Although all information will also be collated in a report later this month, to give you a bit of an understanding of what has come out of the conference, below are a few bite-sized bits of information:
* Some key barriers to access were identified: most people agreed that the following barriers to access, engagement and learning should be the primary barriers to be addressed through the OWLP scheme:
- Limited provision of information about the landscape and its heritage;
- Lack of coherent tourism promotion;
- Lack of sufficient and varied tourism attractions & amenities in the area;
- Limited public access points to the landscape.
* The workshops also highlighted some additional barriers, in particular:
- Barriers for water recreation is limited throughout the area (e.g., access to water; slipways);
- There are some linear walking and cycling routes, but people prefer and have a clear need for more circular routes close to their settlements;
- Need for the creation of education packs for local schools about the heritage of the area, to be created in close co-operation with teachers.
A good number of ideas came forward how to address these barriers, with the creation of stronger links with education providers and local tourism business providers and local empowerment through skills training and other initiatives coming out clearly.
Leaving a sustainable legacy
The second workshop, where people provided ideas to ensure a sustainable legacy for the OWLP scheme also provided us ample food for thought. A good number of suggestions have been highlighted by people what the various organisations could bring to the partnership, helping the scheme to develop and work towards a sustainable legacy.
The central team and the OWLP partnership as a whole will take all ideas into account: there certainly is enough there for us to follow up on and to guide the further development of this exciting project through the next few years.