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Lancaster District Insights Hub, March 2023

Seeing the bigger picture through data and insights

Date Published: 16 May 2023

Jointly led by Lancaster City Council and Lancaster University the Insights Hub is an active network of collaboration-minded people in the Council, the University and beyond.  A forum for actual and potential collaborators to meet, share ideas and information in order to support the District to flourish. 

The following insights were shared at the March 2023 Insights Hub.

Meeting Chair: Sarah Rees, Head of Stakeholder Relations, Lancaster University

Beyond Imagination Life Survey

 The Beyond Imagination Life Survey was a wide-ranging survey of almost 3,000 Lancaster District & Blackburn with Darwen residents undertaken by BMG Research on behalf of Lancaster University in partnership with Lancaster City Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council. Key Insights were shared from the Life Survey on how residents feel about Lancaster as a place to live, and from the Sustainability in the Lancaster District case study by Connected Places Catapult. The case study used the Life Survey data to investigate some of the requirements for a modal shift in transportation to aid in the transition to net zero. It also explored aspects of sustainable practices and their relationship to mental and physical health.

The presentation from Gemma Coupe, Impact Manager for Beyond Imagination can be downloaded here.

Accelerating the Data Driven Future of our Region

David Perez, Lecturer in Radical Co-Design at Lancaster University shared news of a new Impact Accelerator project to further promote the use of the Life Survey to Lancaster University researchers, local authorities and wider organisations who could utilise this data effectively for public good. The project will be hosting a series of Introducing the Life Survey events, train the trainer and deep dive workshops around the Life Survey data throughout 2023.

Further information on the project and how to access the Life Survey findings can be found here

If you are interested in hosting or taking part in a workshop to explore the Life Survey findings please email David at d.perez@Lancaster.ac.uk

Placemaking with Young Adults

Suzanna Dart, Climate Change Policy Officer at Lancaster City Council presented insights from the Placemaking with Young Adults project funded by the British Academy led by Dr Mirian Calvo at ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University in close collaboration with Lancaster City Council.

Lancaster City Council are working on the preparation of a significant new planning framework for South Lancaster. This requires working with a wide range of people – the local community, infrastructure providers, the development industry and other interested parties to ensure that the wide range of challenges associated with development of this scale can be overcome. It is critical that meaningful engagement takes place with a wider spectrum of people, including young people.

To create a Placemaking Framework the Council’s and University engagement with young people stretched across 2022 with workshops and events that brought together young people and policy makers. Novel ways were explored to embed public engagement and participation in policy making for the urban environment and build bridges between Councils, local authority officials, and young people on environmental policies. The aim is to co-design local plan policies that will be more effective (financially and environmentally) in the longer-term and address sustainability and social challenges associated to climate emergency. Through the process young people have begun to understand the importance of planning and helped to shape outputs for future development in South Lancaster. The final report is expected in summer 2023.

You can read more about the project here: Placemaking with Young Adults.

The City Council have also created a video about the project

Soils in Planning and Construction Task Force

 In another collaboration between the City Council and University, Susanna Dart and Jess Davies, Professor of Sustainability at Lancaster University presented findings from their research undertaken into soil. The findings contain vital information for local authorities, contractors, clients, developers and design teams.  Helping them to understand how to better manage soil in construction and planning to ensure a more sustainable future.

Key findings are that:

  • Every single teaspoon of soil contains around one billion bacteria; every cubic metre of healthy soil captures between 12kg and 35kg of carbon. The construction sector destroys and throws soil into landfill at a rate of nearly 30 million tonnes each year.
  • In 2013, soil carbon losses due to development were estimated at 6.1 million tonnes of CO2; this is greater than losses of greenhouse gases from other big emitting industries such as concrete production (6 million tonnes CO2 equivalent) and the chemical industry (5.2 million tonnes CO2 equivalent).
  • Compaction can reduce water infiltration by 70-99%, and heavily compacted soil starts to resemble the infiltration characteristics of an impervious surface.
  • This leads to poor drainage, waterlogged sites and issues with flooding. Compacted soils also cause problems for plant establishment and growth due to a restricted rooting area, particularly for woody plants and trees.

Download the report: Building on soil sustainability: Principles for soils in planning and construction.

 Visit the project web site here: https://www.soilstaskforce.com

 Future Insights Hub meetings

The next Insights Hub meeting will take place on Monday 26th June 2023 from 11am – 12.30pm on Teams. The meeting will share a summary from Professor Andrew Binley from Lancaster University’s Environment Centre who working with PhD students discovered evidence suggesting a Romano-Celtic temple under public land near Lancaster Castle. Followed by a discussion over how to build on work to date on the site with the City Council. Professor Jo Knight, Lancaster University Research Director for the Eden Project will share insights on research funding bids currently under development or submitted involving Eden Project Morecambe and wider partners. Claire Muir, Head of Population Health Transformation and Change Lead, NHS will give an update on Insights collated through the Morecambe Bay Anchor Collaborative.

If you would have insights you would like to share at a future Insights Hub meeting, or would like to receive invitations to Insights Hub meetings please email Kirsty Chekansky, Partnerships Coordinator at Lancaster City Council at kchekansky@lancaster.gov.uk