In July 2013, The Beeston Community Forum voted overwhelmingly to work towards writing a neighbourhood plan. Since then progress has been made. A steering group has successfully applied for designation (recognition) of the area and the Beeston Neighbourhood Forum (BNF). The designated area has a population of 16,000 residents and 6,500 dwellings plus around 200 businesses.
The Community has been consulted online and by leaflet to provide information about this initiative as well as giving residents, businesses, workers and voluntary groups the opportunity to express their views on regeneration of the area. Three workshops were held for residents. BNF have been represented at the Beeston Festival and monthly reports on progress have been given at Beeston Community Forum meetings. Furthermore, a party of 14 travelled to Wolverhampton in March 2015 to meet with a group who have written an adopted neighbourhood plan.
Since BNF has been designated around 80 individuals have become members. These are divided between residents, workers, business traders and ward councillors. A day to day running Committee was formed and has met on five occasions. Seven priority areas have been established from feedback provided by the Community and task groups for each area will meet to discuss the issues before making recommendations to the Committee. In this way, the policies and projects within the Beeston Plan will be developed.
Currently, there are more than 1,000 neighbourhood plans being developed in England. In Leeds, 21 schemes are progressing including the Beeston Plan. There are more neighbourhood plans in this city than any other in the country. Leeds City Council see neighbourhood planning as an effective way of giving communities the chance to influence development.
Beeston Neighbourhood Forum has talked with the Council on how it can work with the community to develop policies and projects that have been identified. A planning consultant has been appointed by BNF to help it progress. Task group leaders have been appointed. The numbers who have joined task groups have been disappointing. Housing and environment groups have sufficient numbers to make a start but the other five groups need more members. These groups are:
- opportunities for young people
- integration and community cohesion
Members are asked to attend a few meetings to give their views and the leaders will make recommendations to the Committee based on the discussions. From these collective discussions, a Beeston Plan will be put together.
Through the neighbourhood planning process, thousands of citizens up and down the country are being given the opportunity to be the authors of change in their communities for the next 10 to 15 years. That is what is on offer here in Beeston. I urge more to get involved to build the Beeston Community we are proud of. This is ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’. Failure to seize the opportunity could ultimately condemn Beeston to a spiral of decline.
If you are interested in joining a task group, please contact Mark Parry at BeestonPlan@gmail.com or on 07981 339558.
This post was written by Greg Turton using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.