The role of planning in shaping better urban-rural relationships in Bristol City Region

Date: 29/06/2017

by Luca Lazzarini

Luca Lazzarini, visiting PhD from Polytechnic of Turin is making a presentation based on the results of his study period at CCRI that will end on July 15th 2017.

The presentation will look at the main approaches of land-use and spatial planning models with regard to rural areas.

The case-study is Bristol City Region and the main focus is on the activity of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in planning.

Since their introduction in 2010 in the context of the Localist Reform, LEPs have been playing a crucial role in reshaping the governance of British City Regions and in coordinating public and private investments in several areas of economic development.

By examining the dominant spatial narrative of LEP in planning, the presentation aims at underlying the main challenges and limits of this model in dealing with the complexity of rural areas.

The presentation will be chaired by Matt Reed.

Sufisa case studies

Date: 22/06/2017

by James Kirwan and Damian Maye

CCRI researchers, James Kirwan and Damian Maye, are making a presentation based on SUFISA case studies, drawing from the EU Horizon 2020 research project SUFISA – Sustainable finance for sustainable agriculture and fisheries.
James and Damian are part of the CCRI team playing a pivotal role in the project, being responsible for work-package number two.

The work-package involves running a producer survey across 22 regions of the EU, each of which involves up to 300 producers. A large database is being compiled that will be subjected to a comparative cross-regional econometric and descriptive analysis.

Water and Integrated Local Delivery (WILD) project, enabling local communities and famers to influence their local environment and its future management and development

by Antony Lyons (former CCRI artist in residence) and Jenny Phelps (FWAG SouthWest).

Date: 25/05/2017

The WILD project has brought together a diverse partnership that over the past 3 years has been working collectively to bring about environmental improvements to the rivers and other watercourses of the Cotswold Water Park and the Upper Thames catchment. In particular the WILD Project has enabled local communities and landowners to develop a mutual understanding and as a result becoming more involved in the management of local water courses.

Now in its second phase, WILD is looking to measure more deeply the changes that have taken place and to develop the key elements of the process that can be transferred to other places.

This presentation include a short film that Antony has developed for WILD, partly funded by the PEGASUS project.

FOR RURAL SPACE. A scenario-based approach for re-addressing planning practice

Date: 16/03/2017

by Luca-Lazzarini

Luca Lazzarini

Luca Lazzarini made a presentation as part of the CCRI Seminar Series entitled “FOR RURAL SPACE. A scenario-based approach for re-addressing planning practice”.

Luca studied Urban Planning and Policy Design at Politecnico di Milano. He is currently a PhD student in Urban and Regional Development at the Inter-university Department of Urban and Regional Studies and Planning (DIST) at Politecnico di Torino. His main research interest relates to inter-institutional cooperation and governance processes at the local level in the field of urban and peri-urban agriculture development.

Overview of the presentation:

In her outstanding work “For Space”, Doreen Massey reminds us that many current discourses around globalisation evade the full challenge of space: «what is always at issue is the content, not the spatial form, of the relations through which space is constructed».

In the last decade the relational understanding of space brought by the post-structuralist perspective of geographers such as Massey, has began to influence planning theory and practice. Planners have started to interpret space as a socially dynamic and experienced entity, transferring this new knowledge to their way of building urban and territorial projects.

While planning was opening up to the «sphere of multiplicity», new ways of representing the future have traced alternative trajectories of change for contemporary cities. From the mid-Nineties on, many plans have employed the scenario-making approach to replace the former static visions of the future or even to force the glance towards a utopian (but needed) change.

Unfortunately, within this process of change, most of the planning policies have been focused on urban areas, with the resulting lack of attention by planners to demands and issues rising from rural areas. These were rarely considered as a ground for innovating planning tools and methods or for testing their potential contribution to rural development.

The seminar aims to respond to this gap by presenting two case studies that differently depict the rural as a relational space in which planning practices can meaningfully affect agricultural policies and practices. The first case is a planning project taking place in Bologna north fringe areas and the second is a recent research made in Aso Valley, in the centre of Italy, which analysed current forms of local cooperation and their ways of shaping governance processes and deeply affecting rural development policies and practices.

A Horticultural Belt for Stroud District

Date: 16/02/2017

by Nick James and Liz Child.

Overview of the presentation:

“Searching for effective farming policies in Gloucestershire. Examining the scope for a ‘Horticultural Belt’ including food provisioning and prospects for agroecological initiatives”

Stroud District [Food] and Horticultural Belt Group is a small working group that has researched and drawn up a report over a period of four years. The main aim is to search for and prescribe effective policy and action in the agrarian and food provisioning sector. If “agroecology”, recommended by the FAO and deliberated by UK government, is to move into practice at the local level, then the policy structures for steering and enabling a transformation need to be considered within the context of the local authorities and institutions working with food and agricultural supplies.

The main question is therefore: What are the chances of finding such policy arenas that may stimulate the local prospects for a response? A secondary question is: How do we work with farmers and land owners to investigate the chances to enable a food and horticultural belt?

Dr Nick James is a geographer and Associate Lecturer with the Open University. His work is mainly in food, and environmental policy. Nick was part of the Transition Stroud Food Strategy Group from 2012.

Liz Child is a Human Ecology graduate and a local fresh food campaigner. She is now retired and an allotmenteer in Stroud. While living in Nailsworth she was a member of GoGrow Nailsworth Valleys community group.

Business models and ICTs supporting the development of local agrofood and tourism systems

Date: 09/02/2017

by Marco Della Gala

CCRI’s MCA (Marie Curie Actions) Research Fellow, Marco Della Gala joined the CCRI from the University of Calabria on 1 June 2016 to work on a ‘training-through-research project’ funded by the EU Horizon 2020 program, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions – individual fellowship.

Marco is studying for a PhD at the University of Calabria. His research project is titled “Business models and ICT services to support the development of agro-food and touristic sustainable local systems”.

Natural Capital and Environmental Decision Making

Date: 02/02/2017

by Dr Dan Marsh

Dr Dan Marsh, an environmental economist from the Department of Economics at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, was a visitor in the CCRI until Spring 2017. He was working on the PEGASUS project, specifically helping on the in-depth study of the Water and Integrated Local Delivery (WILD) project.

During his stay, Dan gave a presentation as part of the CCRI Seminar Series entitled ‘Natural Capital and Environmental Decision Making’.


The concept of natural capital is becoming increasingly prominent in discussion and analysis about the state of the environment and the ways in which it can be improved. Natural Capital is expected to feature strongly in the Government’s 25-year plan for the environment and is increasingly embedded in policy in national and local government and the private sector. Dr Marsh will review some of the recent work on natural capital accounting and the ways in which the value of nature can be better incorporated into decision making. He will also put forward some suggestions on the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches as well as his ideas for future work.

In this presentation natural capital refers to “the elements of nature that produce value or benefits to people (directly and indirectly), such as the stock of forests, rivers, land, minerals and oceans …”.

Small farms survey

Date: 26/01/2017

by Rebecca Laughton

Rebecca Laughton made a presentation about ‘Small Farms Survey’ as part of the CCRI Seminar Series on Thursday 26th January.

Mixed methods mapping of soil carbon – challenging the usual approaches to mapping the agricultural environment

Date: 19/01/2017

by Beth Brockett

Beth Brockett’s presentation was entitled ‘Mixed methods mapping of soil carbon – challenging the usual approaches to mapping the agricultural environment’.

After completing an interdisciplinary PhD in mapping soil carbon, which included engagements with Critical and Feminist GIS, soil science, above-below ground ecology and rural sociology, Beth is now putting the knowledge she gained and the methods she developed into practice as a Land Management and Conservation Adviser in Natural England. In this presentation she discussed her PhD findings and her experience of bringing interdisciplinarity into her current role.

Loss and destruction of social capital and social networks in Spanish rural areas as consequences of the NOT LEADER philosophy

Date: 15/12/2017

by Javi Serrano Lara

Javi Serrano Lara was a visiting PhD student from the Institute of Local Development, University of Valencia, Spain, with a background is in geography and environment. He graduated from the University of Valencia in 2013 and also gained a Masters in land management and environment in 2014. His research interests include the gender approach in rural areas and Geographic Information Systems.

Javi is currently working on his PhD, which examines social capital in rural areas using social network analysis in relation to rural development programme (LEADER). During his stay in the UK, Javi was working on a case study of a LEADER group in England and making a comparison between this area and the areas of Spain.

The history of the alternative food movement

Date: 20/10/2016

by Sophie Greenway

Sophie Greenway, of Warwick University, made a presentation entitled ‘The history of the alternative food movement’.

Non-farmers’ willingness to farm: a large-scale choice experiment to identify policy options that can induce new entry to the agricultural industry

Date: 13/10/2016

by Taro Takahashihe

Dr Taro Takahashihe, a quantitative ag-economist who moved from Japan to Bristol Vet School earlier this year, presented ‘Non-farmers’ willingness to farm: a large-scale choice experiment to identify policy options that can induce new entry to the agricultural industry’.

Decision support tools for agriculture: towards effective design and delivery

Date: 22/09/2016

by Dr David Christian Rose, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge.

Decision support tools, usually considered to be software-based, may be
an important part of the quest for evidence-based decision-making in
agriculture to improve productivity and environmental outputs. These
tools can lead users through clear steps and suggest optimal decision
paths or may act more as information sources to improve the evidence
base for decisions. Yet, despite their availability in a wide range of
formats, studies in several countries have shown uptake to be
disappointingly low.

This talk looks at 2 aspects of a project conducted under Defra’s
Sustainable Intensification Platform. This project used a mixed methods
approach to investigate the factors affecting the uptake and use of
decision support tools by farmers and advisers in the UK.

Firstly, we found that fifteen factors are influential in convincing
farmers and advisers to use decision support tools, which include
usability, cost-effectiveness, performance, relevance to user, and
compatibility with compliance demands. This study found that there are a
plethora of agricultural decision support tools in operation, yet showed
that uptake is low. A better understanding of the fifteen factors
identified should lead to more effective design and delivery of tools in
the future.

Secondly, the results supported previous work about the value of
advisors for on-farm decision-making. The situated knowledge held by
advisers, and their trusted status with farmers, makes them an integral
part of the decision-making process, including the use of decision
support tools.