Forest of Dean

Area Profile

The target area for Local Action in the Forest of Dean covers the District Council's Parish and Ward boundaries which consist of 41 Parishes and 27 Wards. The area currently has a population of 80,900 living in an area covering 526 square kilometres. Over 120 sq kilometres of this is woodland, managed by the Forestry Commission and others. The Forest of Dean area is set between the Rivers Severn and Wye and is an area of outstandingly beautiful countryside which attracts many visitors. Other than the four "market" towns the Area has a dispersed settlement pattern. It has a "specialness" important to local people arising from its cultural identity and high quality natural environment. 42% of the population are based in the four market towns of Coleford, Cinderford, Newent and Lydney with the remaining 58% living in smaller, rural and widely scattered settlements. The Forest of Dean is intrinsically very attractive, has less multiple deprivation than the national mean, but in economic terms it has historically tended to be a lagging area due to an over-reliance on declining industries. As a consequence, although its residents have a below national average level of unemployment, suitable qualified employment for many necessitates they commute out of the district; and those jobs that that there are in the District tend to be less well paid, with nearly 85% of companies employing less than 10 persons.

Group Profile

Local Action is directed by an Executive which comprises 16 representatives from the private, public, voluntary and community sectors and local authority within the Forest of Dean District. Roles and responsibilities have been assigned to each executive member aligned to their knowledge, expertise or linkage within specific sectors and/or groups across the community. A bottom up approach is led by each member to ensure widest possible engagement with residents and businesses. The Executive meets monthly and its assigned sub groups meet more frequently.

Contacts

LAG Manager: Neil Batt

Tel: 01594 812608

Email: neil.batt@fdean.gov.uk

Projects / Activities

The strategic objectives centre around 3 themes:

  • Engaging communities - ensuring that everyone has a chance to voice concerns and contribute towards the solution;
  • Re - localisation - raising the profile of local produce and resources to maximise economic potential within the target area; and
  • Intelligent Economic Growth - using local resources and "specialness" as a driver for economic development.

A guiding principle within the three themes is sustainability which will be developed in partnership to ensure a robust sustainability proofing mechanism through the implementation of agreed protocols.

Summary

This Local Development Strategy (LDS) for the Forest of Dean consolidates two initial expressions of interest, Carving a Vision for the Future and Transition Forest Of Dean and is entitled, "Securing the Future of the Forest of Dean". The LDS was developed on behalf of the Forest of Dean Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) which disbanded in April 2011. The Local Action Group (LAG) includes key members of the former LSP but is expanded to include other partners to strengthen engagement with the wider community and to provide sector specific expertise.

The LDS for the target area builds on previous approaches and tackles the area's significant problems of economic underperformance that earlier action plans failed to fully address. It also looks at emerging economic, environmental and social issues and ways in which we can prepare for the challenges ahead. Extensive consultation and collaboration has been undertaken with stakeholders and community groups within the target area which has provided the basis for this strategy. There is a real desire to work together to find solutions which will enable the area to advance and prosper and improve the quality of life for all sectors of the community. The strategy has been referenced against the principles set out in the SW RIP & other County strategies and Plans to ensure integration and alignment with other investment themes.

Outputs

  • Formation of an effective LAG based on sound operational procedures, monitoring and reporting protocols.
  • Integration of sustainable development principles which ensure that delivery activities are robust and resilient to economic, social and environmental change.
  • Deploying projects that focus on the area's USP which progressively seek to mitigate the areas reliance on traditional industries.
  • Enabling skills progression opportunities which raise attainment to address lagging status.
  • Empowering communities to identify gaps in provision and broker innovative solutions to their needs.
  • Exploiting rural skills & technologies that maintain the area's landscape and use as a tool to raise educational attainment.
  • Deploying projects which enable communities and households to address and take ownership of their Carbon Footprint.

Outcomes

By 2014 Local Action in the Forest of Dean will have facilitated the following:

  • All sections of the community have the opportunity to have their say and get involved in deciding their future.
  • A process of capacity building and knowledge transfer embedded within communities.
  • The adoption of a proven sustainability proofing mechanism.
  • A more robust and diverse local economy and skill base.
  • The specialness of the area harnessed as a sustainable economic driver.
  • Communities that have the capacity and tools to provide Access to Local Services.
  • Reduction of community vulnerability through facilitating a recognisable and ongoing shift to a vibrant lower carbon economy.

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