In January 2011 we embarked on a project to identify the common aspirations that local people have for the area. In order to do this we had approximately 300 local residents fill out surveys; we undertook 14 in-depth case study interviews with a hand-picked diverse range of residents; we had 60% of local businesses give their views via a trader specific survey; we met with 14 local community group representatives, including religious groups, tenants organisations and elderly and youth clubs, local councillors and police; and took part in a project with students from the City Academy considering the future of the area.
We consolidated this work and distilled five key aspirations that we believe best reflects local people’s values about the area, these are set out below:
There is more to a great neighbourhood than just people living in the same area. We want a neighbourhood that has a strong sense of community, a place rich in social capital. A neighbourhood where we recognise people who use the same shops, streets and spaces that we do, where we often bump into people we know, and can go to places where we can meet others who might have the same interests as us.
We want a neighbourhood defined by its diverse mix of people, rather than any single dominant group. A place where people of all ages, incomes and creeds live and work side by side, where we are exposed to different cultures, tastes and beliefs to our own but still feel at home. A place that is open to incomers but values its longer-term residents. We need to encourage this diversity and nurture shops, provide homes and build workplaces that can serve our diverse community.
We want to live in a neighbourhood that is easy to get around, whether walking, cycling, driving or in public transport. A place where it is safe and attractive to walk to shops, parks and schools, where the less abled feel they can get around with as much ease as the abled, where you can cycle without feeling intimidated by motor vehicles, but where you can easily drive through to get to go farther afield. We need a neighbourhood with a simple and legible network of streets, where the burden of traffic is shared equally. Streets that can accommodate a variety of users whilst prioritising the most vulnerable.
We want a neighbourhood with a healthy and resilient local economy, a place where money remains in the community and profit is measured not solely in pounds and pence. A place not dependent on any single company for goods, services or employment. A place that supports a diverse range of local small and medium-sized business, and provides a nurturing environment where new businesses can flourish. A place that attracts talented, creative and the entrepreneurial people to live and to work.
We want a neighbourhood that uses resources wisely and actively minimises its ecological footprint. A neighbourhood where all waste is recycled or re-used; where walking and cycling are the primary modes of transport; where the energy we consume is produced in a sustainable manner and all buildings use it efficiently; and with places to grow our own food.