Friday, 9 December 2011

Including Women Event and Neighbourhood Planning

Last week, I was invited along to an event organised by Including Women in Balsall Heath. Strangely, there were two men there, both called Joe and both with an interest in planning - what does that tell you? Anyway, I was asked to speak about our campaigns from global to local level.
I chose food, because we ran a campaign called Fix The Food Chain last year, which raised awareness of the links between what we eat, deforestation happening in South America, Global injustice and Climate Change. On the local level we have been supportive of grow-sites being developed on small pieces of derelict land in Birmingham, so that people can grow their own food, as well as attempting to protect small independent shops from supermarkets taking over the city.
Also speaking were Val from the History Society who spoke about how the neighbourhood has changed over the years and showing some really interesting pictures to illustrate it and Joe Holyoak who ran a session getting people to think about what they want to go into the neighbourhood plan.

It was great to hear people's views on what they would like to be done differently (even if not everything could be changed by the planning process) and, once again, it showed that the kinds of things we ask for in terms of safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists are actually what people with no environmental agenda also ask for.

I'll be really interested to see what comes out of the Balsall Heath neighbourhood plan. From what was said in this meeting, it's hard to imagine that it'll be as focused as the government wants on encouraging more development and more economic activity, but will be about stopping certain types of development, such as more big "shed" retail developments on the old Joseph Chamberlain site, which is positive as far as we're concerned.
I hope that mixed use and employment land is created within the plan for walkable spaces to provide something for an area with high density housing and high unemployment. I also hope that people learn about the good stuff that already exists within Balsall Heath that needs to be supported while they're having these conversations.

Joe Peacock

No comments: