University of Exeter: Community growing schemes and mapping empty housing identified as key sustainability goals for Cornwall

Researchers, working in partnership with local organisations, held the ‘The Civic Lantern’ workshop at Woodland Valley Farm.

The Civic Lantern was designed to allow local leaders and innovators from community organisations across Cornwall to celebrate local action and collectively vote on two goals to improve environmental and social sustainability in the year ahead.

Workshop attendees decided that “giving land and support to every community across Cornwall for a sustainable growing scheme”, and “supporting communities to map under-utilised properties so local people can be housed” were the top goals.

Action under these two goals will help to deliver against the shared vision for Cornwall by 2050 as outlined by the ‘Cornwall Plan 2020-2050’.

The project was run by researchers from the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) at the Penryn campus of the University of Exeter, in collaboration with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Leadership Board.

“Global and national policy goals for sustainability are out of touch and often fail to connect with local leadership and priorities,” said ESI Director Professor Jane Wills.

“Cornwall has strong ambitions around net-zero and sustainability, and we wanted to explore how those ambitions could support and enhance what is already being done on the ground.

“The goals collectively decided upon will be supported by local authorities, statutory bodies and community organisations working together across Cornwall in the year ahead.”

Researchers will work with Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Leadership Board members and community partners to identify land and support communities with an ambition to establish growing schemes.

For the second goal, Cornwall Council already has a system through which people can report empty and unused properties.

Working with the new campaign group, Homes for Cornwall, the project team are trying to raise awareness of this, as well as promoting the work done by the campaign to link people looking for accommodation to those providing rooms or homes.

There will be further news about these projects and a call for further engagement later in the year.

Councillor Linda Taylor, chair of the Leadership Board and Leader of Cornwall Council, said: “The Cornwall Plan – our vision for Cornwall in 2050 – needs to be a living document, not a forgotten one.

“Through events like the ‘Civic Lantern’ we can use The Cornwall Plan to come together, foster our stronger partnership working and deliver a carbon-neutral Cornwall, where everyone can start well, live well and age well”.

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