Well, no, we don't actually have a blank sheet of paper to start with planning the Partnership's efforts in Dewsbury.
The Strategic Development Framework of 2010 was the result of a lengthy community engagement project as well as some deep thinking by numerous specialists.
So that's what we've taken as a starting point.
And in order to ensure that we all had a common understanding of the background we spent Wednesday's committee meeting checking out our understanding of what was proposed back in 2010 and what we think would be appropriate now.
You can check it out for yourself here:
Reasons For Decline
Stripped back to the basics the reasons for the decline of the town were considered to be:
- Out-of-town shopping
- Ring road
- Large retail to South of ring road
- Footfall attractors outside town centre
- Sports Centre
- Kirklees College
- Residents preferred out-of-town shopping
- Lack of affordable property and business support for start-ups
- Lack of accommodation for visitors
- Bad press
- Ignorance resulting in poor social cohesion
Assets & Weaknesses
In 2010 the conclusions were that Dewsbury has the following assets and weaknesses:
The report then sought to identify the main issues that needed to be addressed and came up with 3 main themes:
Those changes requiring major input at a planning and development level were characterised as 'Big Moves' of which there were three.
- That activities should be progressively zoned into Residential, Retail and Civic areas.
- Retail developments should be encouraged along the Long Causeway to emphasise this as the main 'High Street'. Note that the illustration includes the Urban Park that breaks through the southern ring road.
- Reconnecting the town centre with the surrounding residential areas with clear pedestrian and cycle access routes.
While the Big Moves take both time and money the Framework identified 'Stepping Stones' and described them as follows:
"Stepping Stones offer a complementary approach to large, long term capital projects: they can be implemented by diverse groups of people, with fewer resources and less risk of failure.
They can animate, inspire, be opportunistic, be fun, creative and bold, and they can be the test bed for the bigger ideas. Most of all they can create opportunities to build up community confidence, change perceptions, create a buzz and inspire civic engagement.
They form a significant part of the SDF strategy for Dewsbury. The Stepping Stones contribute towards achieving the Big Moves. They represent a combination of existing projects that need supporting and developing as well as new ideas and should be used for inspiration."
N.B. The highlights are ours - to show the similarity between the original TFP approach and that of elements of the SDF
SDF Stepping Stones
The SDF then identified the following Stepping Stones associated with each Big Move. The items highlighted green indicate those projects to which the Partnership may be able to contribute.
That left us to consider what we need to do to contribute to this effort and whether The Dewsbury Partnership had anything new to offer.
- It is clearly necessary that we build a relationship with Kirklees and with elected Councillors in order to tap into available information and to ensure that we support and do not conflict with any other development initiatives that may be taking place.
- Then identify those Stepping Stones, both existing and new that are achievable or to which the community can contribute.
- And to influence the planners when the relationship we build with the community tells us that the Big Moves might be improved or reoriented.
The distinctive feature of The Dewsbury Partnership is that we are a town not just a business regeneration project including all elements of the community intent on achieving what WE want, i.e. a better life in a better place.
This means that some of our stepping stones will be entirely community related with the purpose of strengthening our community rather than simply developing the town.
This is an issue that most business regeneration projects don't have and means that we will need to develop methods of engaging all elements of our community - as well as coming up with new ideas for the town.
So our planning remains a Work In Progress and we will keep you updated as it develops.