National Character Area 58

Merseyside Conurbation - Detailed Statements of Environmental Opportunity

This section expands on the Headline Statements of Environmental Opportunity and provides further detail on each of the Statements of Environmental Opportunity.


SEO 1: Conserve and enhance natural assets, including the River Mersey, managing the estuary and coast sustainably while celebrating the rich maritime heritage, improving the landscape, promoting sense of place, providing habitats for wildlife and bringing multiple benefits for people.

For example by:

  • Capitalising on the strengths of the River Mersey and the unique character of the area, ensuring that the legacy of maritime heritage and internationally important remains of the transport industry are legible within the landscape.
  • Seeking ways to protect, conserve, manage and interpret the area’s historic and cultural identity to ensure abetter understanding of past land use, and raising awareness and increasing public engagement, enjoyment and understanding of the historic environment, particularly linking to the ports, trade and industry.
  • Supporting the management of the World Heritage Site, recognising its outstanding universal value.
  • Promoting the benefits of a clean and healthy waterside environment in the Merseyside Conurbation NCA, particularly through projects that integrate multiple objectives.
  • Maintaining and enhancing the coastal and estuarine habitats, allowing the natural evolution of the Mersey Estuary, as well as the dynamic process of erosion and accretion on mudflats/sand flats and salt marshes, to continue where possible.
  • Seeking opportunities to enhance coastal and estuarine habitats alongside coastal adaptation programmes and, where possible, ensuring the retention of mudflats/sand flats, salt marshes and sand dunes, to provide a cost-effective defence against erosion/flooding.
  • Identifying suitable locations for river restoration, reconnecting rivers to their flood plains and taking opportunities to de-culvert and re-naturalise rivers to provide space for water, enabling natural geomorphological processes and dissipating the energy of the flows, while also creating habitats for wildlife.
  • Contributing to wider, whole catchment approaches to flood and water management, through delivering catchment restoration projects.
  • Enabling better public access to the coast, while being sensitive to any important features.


SEO 2: Provide a network of green infrastructure to create a high-quality urban environment that underpins economic and social wellbeing, improves resilience to climate change, supports biodiversity, and provides recreational and educational opportunities.

For example by:

  • Safeguarding and enhancing green infrastructure – including open spaces (parks, woodlands, informal open spaces, nature reserves, accessible countryside, the natural elements of historic sites, built conservation areas and civic spaces); linkages (river corridors, promenades and canals, pathways, cycle routes and greenways); and networks of ‘urban green’ (the collective resource of private gardens, allotments, pocket parks, street trees, verges and green roofs) – so that they provide multifunctional spaces.
  • Planning for significant new green infrastructure provision and linking existing natural assets.
  • Managing future developments so that green infrastructure incorporates accessible greenspace, sustainable drainage systems, new habitats and corridors linking urban areas with more open countryside.
  • Retrofitting green infrastructure to adapt to urban heat, providing shade and passive cooling.
  • Conserving woodlands, including ancient woodlands; conserving trees in urban parks, cemeteries and suburban streets; and increasing tree canopy cover, street trees and areas of green open space – to enhance the urban and historic landscape, to provide wildlife habitat and urban cooling, and to improve quality of life.
  • Establishing new woodlands and other habitats as part of the Mersey Forest in appropriate urban areas, settlements and employment
    sites (such as school playing fields, open spaces, streets, highway verges, institutional grounds, derelict land and development sites), for their many benefits, including greener walking routes linking to the strategic green links and greenway network, and providing access and recreational opportunities where appropriate.
  • Managing and enhancing habitats in the conurbation, including the internationally, nationally and locally important wildlife sites and semi- natural habitats, such as wetland and grassland, and creating buffers to benefit habitats.
  • Managing the small pockets of farmland for a range of benefits – providing local food and habitats for wildlife, and enabling people, including those in urban and urban fringe locations, to learn about farming and the environment; and managing agricultural land in suitable locations to provide supporting habitats for wildlife such as the internationally important populations of overwintering birds.
  • Developing sustainable urban drainage systems in new and existing development to improve infiltration and manage surface water as well as increasing green space within urban and industrial areas to provide multiple benefits for access, recreation and biodiversity.


SEO 3: Plan to connect habitats across the urban fabric, creating corridors and stepping stones for wildlife, to enhance the landscape, create local routes for walking and cycling, and provide accessible natural greenspaces for people close to where they live and work.

For example by:

  • Planning to manage, expand and connect fragmented pockets of habitats in urban areas into a more cohesive whole, enabling the movement of species and conserving their wildlife and historical interest as well as providing opportunities for people to learn about and enjoy the natural environment.
  • Conserving and managing the banks of linear features – such as hedgerows, rivers, promenades, ditches, roads and railways – for their biodiversity interest, reconnecting habitats and providing a network of semi-natural habitat within the urban fabric.
  • Protecting, restoring and creating high-quality recreation areas; managing the existing network of local walking and cycling routes (including existing and future coastal access provision); and ensuring that people have access to green space and green routes close to where they live – to enable people to increase exercise and promote mental wellbeing.
  • Improving the opportunities for walking and cycling as part of everyday life in the Merseyside conurbation; ensuring that paths are maintained and well signposted, and that some surfaced paths are provided for use by all levels of ability.
  • Promoting sustainable recreation and education opportunities linked to biodiversity (for example, at Local Wildlife Sites, Local Nature Reserves and country parks) and providing links between urban areas and the surrounding coast and countryside. Providing interpretation for people to understand and enjoy wildlife and the benefits of a healthy natural environment.


SEO 4: Provide opportunities for people to understand the natural and historic character of the Merseyside Conurbation NCA, conserving heritage, reinforcing sense of place, providing opportunities for recreation and interpretation, and enabling people to access and enjoy the distinctive environment.

For example by:

  • Encouraging improved management to bring and maintain nationally and locally designated habitats into favourable condition; and protecting and enhancing the extent and quality of semi-natural habitats. Creating buffers to benefit habitats such as woodland, wetland, grassland and parkland.
  • Reconnecting people to nature by enhancing urban environments, including wildlife-friendly management of green spaces, and by embedding biodiversity considerations and the need to adapt to climate change, as a means of involving people in the conservation of the wider environment.
  • Improving the provision of accessible green space – particularly in those areas that are currently deficient – by creating new habitats such as woodlands and wetlands to benefit people and wildlife.
  • Working with local communities to seek opportunities for sustainably managing food production in urban areas; and enabling urban communities to grow food locally through providing allotments, amenity space and roofs within housing areas, and community gardens.
  • Creating new woodlands in suitable locations, such as on the fringes of urban and industrial areas, for multi-purpose use as part of the Community Forest initiative including innovative wood fuel, timber and forest industries; and ensuring that new woodland strengthens the local landscape, enhances biodiversity, and provides opportunities for recreation and benefits for water quality, soil quality and flood risk management, where possible.
  • Protecting the sense of place by conserving and enhancing the parks and urban green spaces; increasing the provision of green spaces, as well as enabling people to access and enjoy them, and other natural environments, including the coast and countryside.
  • Encouraging urban populations to engage with and help to manage the natural environment through access provision and volunteering activities within local green spaces.
  • Improving tranquillity and creating more tranquil spaces within existing and new development – through planning and urban design and through the management of green infrastructure – to provide quiet enjoyment and to improve wellbeing through increased contact with the natural environment.
  • Interpreting the geodiversity and landform, such as natural erosion and coastal processes.

On this Page