Messages from Liverpool
One of the main drivers of neighbourhood plans is the desire of a community to maintain or improve its built and natural environment for the benefit of its residents and businesses. However, the process is relatively complex and support from external organisations is often needed. One such organisation is Locality which provides services for local people, contributes to the local economy and strengthens community involvement. Locality manages the Governments funding for neighbourhood planning, and by submitting bids through Locality, Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum has successfully gained two significant grants. To be able to attend Locality’s annual conference in Liverpool in early November was therefore an opportunity not to be missed. It proved to be an inspirational two days.
The keynote speech was given by Jason Roberts, a community activist, who through ambition, determination and passion has not only transformed the neighbourhood in which he lives but has sparked an international movement, which is creating change in communities throughout the world. His Better Block project is a demonstration tool that rebuilds an area using grassroots efforts to show the potential to create great walkable, vibrant neighbourhood centres. It can change attitudes which in turn lead to permanent improvements. To find out more and see the process in action use this link – http://teambetterblock.com/ and then select a video to watch eg The First Better Block Project.
Liverpool has undergone considerable regeneration over recent years and it was interesting to be guided through some of the key developments as well as hear about the experiences of other Neighbourhood Forums. I have included some images of Central Liverpool and docklands which illustrate what has been achieved. I am not suggesting our neighbourhood plan should create a mini Liverpool in Broadstone but it should be apparent that the Broadway reflects a tired environment dominated by the car and barely pedestrian friendly.
It could be argued that, as a community, we do occasionally adopt a Better Block approach. For the Christmas Parade the Toast Rack is closed, stalls set up and the Broadway itself closed for a short period of time. But is this enough to reveal the full potential of a revitalised Broadway? Perhaps we should be looking for more opportunities to create pop-up cycle ways, wider pavements, seating areas and focal points that can be enjoyed by all.