For a community vision
Posted - June 01, 2012
Unique opportunity to shape the future of Jericho
Jericho residents now have the opportunity to manage future development by producing a ‘community-led plan’.
This should allow us to address a wide range of issues. Some people are concerned, for example, about how Walton Street is gradually developing into a noisy night-time entertainment area. Is this really what local residents want?
At a JCA meeting last November participants came up with many ideas such as reviving the small market at the top of Jericho Street, or closing Walton Street occasionally for markets and fairs.
People were also concerned about the physical layout of Walton Street, with its narrow pavements. Can we not change it to achieve a more balanced use between cars, cyclists and pedestrians? Other also want to considering closing certain streets within Jericho after school hours to allow children to play safely.
These and many other issues can be considered as part of community-led planning. In fact we can produce a plan to achieve more or less anything.
To kick start this process the JCA successfully applied for a grant of £4,500 from the County Council. At our AGM in April Paul Wolf of the Communities and Neighbourhoods Team of the City Council outlined what community-led planning entails. From that meeting we have assembled some local residents to act as a steering group.
The next step in preparing a plan will be to understand more fully local needs and aspirations. At its simplest this might just mean walking around Jericho, looking at our familiar setting with fresh eyes and imagining how things could be better.
After this we need to draw up some activities and projects, compile these into a plan, and check that everyone is happy with it, especially the local organizations expected to help with its delivery.
In addition, we can draw up a ‘neighbourhood plan’ for Jericho. This is specifically concerned with ‘spatial’ issues — what we want to do with Jericho’s land area. This will be of particular value to Jericho because of our intention to acquire the canalside site for a new Community Centre, boatyard, and public square.
This opportunity has arisen from new rights established in the government’s 2011 Localism Bill. This should allow us a say, for example, on where new homes and offices should be built, and what they should look like. While this plan has to align with local planning policies it should enable us to influence the type, design, location and mix of new development.
To explain all this, the JCA invited to the AGM Lorraine Hart, a planner and community activist to share her experience in East London. She said that once a neighbourhood plan has been drawn up it has to be approved in a referendum. After this it carries real legal weight. Decision-makers have to take it into account when they consider development proposals.
We are still in the very early stages of preparing such plans, but if you are a Jericho resident you will be asked for information and canvassed for your views in the months ahead. You should also be able to follow the process on our website and our Facebook page.