Big Issue: Jennie Dallimore on Gloucester's shifting priorities
IT would be difficult to deny that regeneration in Gloucester has accelerated in the past few years and has made a significant difference to our great city.
The Gloucester Heritage and Urban Regeneration Company (GHURC) has made fantastic progress and must be congratulated on the transformation so far.
When I first moved to Bristol Road in 1999, I walked the Canal Corridor, through the Docks and into King's Square, all neglected and unsightly areas. The impression it gave me was a rundown and tired place to be. Things have changed dramatically for the better and there is a now real feeling of a city on the up, but there is always more to be done. Many of the unfinished projects will be completed in the near future so where do we look to focus our priorities now?
What about our communities, our homes, and the place we wake up to in the morning and return to at the end of hard day?
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I am delighted that last week our cabinet agreed a report that also sets out community regeneration as a priority for our city and it is a decision I celebrate. There are key areas highlighted, Podsmead and Matson with their need for renewed housing stock to enable us to offer decent homes long into the future. We also need to think again on design and about how we develop stronger and safer communities.
Of course, it's not all about the physical appearance but about the emotional regeneration of an engaged neighbourhood too. It is important that top down decision making is replaced by the grassroots needs and desires which will shape happier, healthier and sustainable communities.
If we are to learn from the mistakes made in the past, then we must ensure that we listen and engage our communities in this process of regeneration. This is my priority, to ensure this happens going forward.
Gloucester City Council and partners of the Local Strategic Partnership have agreed with me and will become a learning site for Asset Based Community Development.
Do look it up – it is a methodology that seeks to uncover and utilise the strengths within communities as a means for sustainable development.
You cannot know what you need until you know what you have and therefore asset mapping of our communities is essential. It's not just about places but people too and what they can offer to make it happen. What works well and what doesn't, what could be done in partnership or differently and what is missing?