Community Development Focus Group – 31st July 2021

Just a quick note to let you know that we are doing things. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been active going to presentations on topics which are of interest to us:

“Office of Place”

A couple of us attended a webinar hosted by entitled “Communities Create Streets” based upon the “Build Beautiful Places” agenda. Here Robert Jenrick spoke about the new “Office of Place” being set up by the Government, the National Model Design Code and the updated National Policy Planning Framework. He waxed lyrical about how communities should be leading developments, not the big developers, much in line with what we are trying to do with our Neighbourhood Plan. It was music to our ears, particularly his statements to “take the power away from the big home builders” and “buildings with beauty stand the test of time”.The (1hour 15 minute) presentation & discussion is available to see on the Policy exchange website here with Jenrick’s presentation taking the first 20 minutes.

“Lockleaze Loves Solar”

We also attended a Webinar hosted by the Innovation Lab of the Community for Sustainable Energy entitled “Lockleaze Loves Solar”. Lockleaze is an area of Bristol of similar size to our Area. The Lockleaze Neighbourhood Trust runs a number of community led projects one of which was a proposal to install 1MW of solar panels on roofs of homes within Lockleaze to reduce energy bills and to alleviate fuel poverty. Whilst their plans are not exactly the same as we have incorporated into the Neighbourhood Plan, they are sufficiently similar that we followed up to get a copy of their Business Case to see how it could help us get started.

They highlighted the need to be clear what we were trying to do and to create a number of possible options (ranging from “simply” encouraging people to put solar panels on their roofs to running a solar farm as a Community energy project). They also emphasised the need to ensure that the community was “on board” with whatever option was chosen and to work with stakeholders such as Western Power, Power companies (such as Octopus Energy) and the Developers of the New Housing.

It has given us much food for thought and we will be building on that knowledge and we’ll publish the link to the recording of the presentation when we have it.

“Census Outputs”

We also attended a presentation by the Office for National Statistics about the way in which the 2021 Census data will be presented. Whilst it was primarily intended for companies which were going to produce applications using the data, it was interesting to note that the first outputs would be available in early 2023. Unfortunately this seems too late for us to use to refine aspects of the Neighbourhood Plan that were based upon the 2011 Census data, it nonetheless gave us a view of what might be available and when.

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