The City could get its first neighbourhood forum under Culture Mile BID plans

Update: consultants Primera have published BID proposals on a new website including the suggestion of a community forum. More here.

Final plans for a Business Improvement District in the north west of the City – which I detailed here – will go to the Corporation’s Policy and Resources committee on October 20, and then to a ballot of businesses in January.

The key issue for residents, as I suggested in the earlier post, is what plans for community involvement will be in place before the ballot, so everyone knows what is on offer. This is the area, outlined in blue:

In my previous post Kate Hart of consultants Primera said:

There is also still the opportunity for residents to get involved now. The BID proposal has been shared with ward members and will be available to view in draft form on a new website in early September. Ward members are also invited to a briefing on the BID in early Sept. The Partnership is keen to hear views on the draft proposal so please get on touch.

Kate quoted the Victoria Neighbourhood Forum as a good example for residents engagement. The Victoria BID provides the secretariat.

I checked in with Kate today, who added:

From our point of view, if a Neighbourhood Forum was to be explored, then we could work with the community to develop a forum that reflected the make up and character of the area, bringing together businesses and residents as they have done in Victoria. I am looking forward to hearing from ward members by the end of next week, and continuing the positive discussions we have had to date.

On the back of Her Late Majesty’s passing, things have been pushed back a bit, but I am aiming to get the website live by the end of next week.

The Culture Mile Business Partnership Board meets on September 28 to finalise proposals, so timing is tight to get together plans for resident engagement for that meeting and then the Policy and Resources committee.

I’ve developed some notes on options for Culture Mile BID engagement to suggest how that might work, and also more general reference on Neighbourhood forums and plans.

From my analysis I’ve suggested one ambitious possibility would be:

  • A neighbourhood forum, with responsibility for designing further engagement. It would the first such Forum in the City.
  • Commitment to develop a neighbourhood plan or strategy for the area, with appropriate engagement of all interests
  • An interactive neighbourhood guide. That could be developed through participatory mapping, with information systems about the BID and local activities. Work that I did for the Barbican Arts Centre Communities and Neighbourhoods team on a physical and virtual community hub could be useful.

I should declare that the interactive guide is my main interest. It’s difficult to see how to get business-resident-council collaboration unless there is a common basis of knowledge about the area, and local activities.

The advantage of a Neighbourhood Forum and Plan for residents is that the system is established under the Localism Act 2011 with clear powers. On the other hand, developing a plan requires specialist skills and a lot of commitment.

Another option would to set up some sort of community forum, together with input to BID steering groups.


Timetable summary

My understanding is:

  • BID website goes live by September 23. First public statement about the BID plans.
  • Ward council members asked to provide ideas on engagement by September 23
  • Proposals go to Culture Mile Business Partnership Board September 28
  • Proposals to Policy and Resources committee October 20.

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