Around 40 people from neighbourhood planning groups across Leeds took part in an innovative knowledge exchange workshop organised by Leeds Beckett University’s Planning Network on 7 November.
The workshop was organised by Leeds Planning Network, a new research cluster set up by the School of the Built Environment and Engineering supported by the Centre for Knowledge Exchange.
Quintin Bradley, Senior Lecturer in Planning at Leeds Beckett University, said: “This workshop is the first in a series of events in which we aim to help local people in Leeds get a real say in the future of their neighbourhoods.”
Participants at the workshop learned from Jill Bolton, from Linton parish council who now have a finished neighbourhood plan and are ready to submit it to popular referendum. Dawn Carey Jones, from Hyde Park, explained how their neighbourhood plan aims to protect local green space and help improve the image of the area. Doug Morley and John Unwin, from the Kippax neighbourhood plan, told how they consulted the community and kept public interest in the plan-making process. Howard Bradley talked of the challenges facing the Seacroft neighbourhood in shaping the future of their area.
The workshop helped the neighbourhood planning groups share experiences, discuss common issues and devise solutions with the advice of the university’s planning and housing lecturers. Many common themes were identified, especially the length of time needed to draw up a plan and the difficulty in keeping local volunteers engaged. There are also key issues that neighbourhood planning cannot deal with. But participants agreed that neighbourhood plans should set out the community’s hopes and ambitions and make it clear what local people think.
The neighbourhood plan-making process is a unique opportunity for local people to influence their communities. Leeds Planning Network will be holding more workshops to provide specific guidance to neighbourhood planning groups and develop its research excellence. It aims to forge a strong partnership between the planning and housing group of the School of the Built Environment and communities across the city.