Senior figures in the regional economy have been told the Trent Valley could generate billions of pounds and create thousands of jobs through strategic landscape planning.
Derbyshire County Council commissioned a study on the economic and environmental future of the area up to 2050, and researchers presented their initial findings earlier this month.
They estimate that a coordinated, large scale approach could bring in more than £2.8billion a year in additional economic benefits and create around 150,000 new jobs.
Council leader Councillor Anne Western said: “This vision is about taking the best of the existing landscape and reshaping the Trent Valley to benefit the environment, local communities and the economy.”
The report describes how competing demands for urban development, agricultural needs, roads and rail infrastructure, and quarrying have led to a landscape facing significant pressures.
In response, authors from Risk & Policy Analysts Ltd and the Planning Cooperative suggest a valley-wide business plan, a dedicated organisation to deliver and monitor it, and a mix of public and private funding.
Coun Western said: “After sand and gravel extraction has left the area there’s the potential to create a new economically vibrant landscape where tourism, agriculture and recreational activities will thrive; where high quality housing growth can be encouraged and where associated jobs will be created; a place where people want to live, work and play.”
The council is part of the Lowland Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire Local Nature Partnership (LDNLNP), which brings together business leaders, local authorities and environmental organisations from the area between Long Eaton, Utoxeter, Derby and Walton-on-Trent.
LDNLNP chairman Tim Farr said: “Taking an environmentally-led approach to development here will have significant benefits, not just for people and wildlife, but also for the economy; and these aims are central to the remit of Local Nature Partnerships.
“However, in order to achieve the greatest benefits we must have a long-term, co-ordinated vision for planning and investment in the area.”
Peter Richardson, chairman of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Making the landscape part of our economic growth strategy, is something I would like D2N2 to be the first LEP in the country to do.
“We could sell this approach to a Government looking for a new way forward in industrial strategy.”
To download the full report, go to http://ldnlnp.org/lnp-documents.