The Green Infrastructure Plan, created by The Mersey Forest on behalf of the Northwich Business Improvement District (BID), identifies locations around the town that could benefit from being greener. These include planting street trees along Chester Way, creating a 'boulevard effect' and installing green, living walls and roofs on buildings. The report makes the case that increasing 'green infrastructure' around the town centre can increase tourism, economic growth and land values while also reducing flooding and boosting health and wellbeing.
Research shows that the type of improvements outlined in the report can boost tourism and retail sales. One US study* found that consumers are willing to spend more (or pay a premium) on products, visit more frequently, or travel farther to shop in areas with attractive landscaping, good tree cover, or green streets.
One project proposed by the report – the pocket park opposite the Bull Ring in the town centre – has already been completed. The attractively landscaped space features crafted timber benches and planters and was created by Groundwork with funding secured by the BID and Chester West and Cheshire Council.
New 'rain gardens' (sustainable drainage systems) would use specially designed landscapes planted with trees to help improve water flow and reduce risk of flooding at key locations.
Northwich BID Manager, Jane Hough, is fully behind the plan and believes it would add a new dimension to the town.
"All of the elements outlined in the plan sound brilliant and would really transform the look and feel of Northwich for the better.
"As outlined by the Mersey Forest, increasing green infrastructure here in Northwich could potentially have so many positive impacts such as economic growth and an increase in tourism which would benefit the town's businesses and retailers."
Paul Nolan, Director, The Mersey Forest commented:
"A greener town centre really can help to give Northwich an edge over other retail destinations, as well as having other environmental benefits such as reducing flood risk. Green infrastructure is a vital element of every town and Northwich BID are to be congratulated for making it a priority."
The report also calls for new green routes to railway stations and to Northwich woodlands, and an information campaign that would promote the links between the town centre, local businesses and Northwich's green assets to help attract visitors.
Northwich BID will now aim to work with partners including Groundwork, The Mersey Forest and Chester West & Cheshire Council to secure funding for priority elements of the Plan.