The Knowle West Residents’ Planning Group have just completed their work on an option for the regeneration of the area covered by the Knowle West Regeneration Plan.
To highlight this work the Group issued the follow press release:
“The Knowle West Residents Planning Group was established in the autumn of 2008 by the local Community in Partnership to ensure that local residents’ views on the future of their neighbourhood were taken into account at all stages in the planning process, something rarely achieved in the past.
Effective community involvement is now part of the City Council’s policy, thanks to the work of the Neighbourhood Planning Network who designed it. It gives further powers to local people to engage in genuine planning and will soon be part of the Coalition Government’s regulations.
The Group’s alternative is well based on widespread local knowledge through the Group members’ networks, extensive sample surveys of local opinion and exhibitions that the residents arranged themselves…
Chair of the Residents’ Planning Group and local vicar, Alister Palmer says:
‘We are determined to avoid any repeat of previous failed regeneration efforts.
We are concerned that the final outcome should be far more than just another community facelift. The regeneration framework needs to tackle the things that have blighted our community for decades – things like low educational achievement, the lack of employment and training opportunities, inadequate parks, play facilities and opportunities for children and young people.
We need new and improved community facilities, including shops and a supermarket.
We want to see existing housing refitted to higher energy efficiency standards as well as new houses built.
And, wherever possible, we want to see employment and training opportunities for local that help build the neighbourhood economy.
We also need public investment in the estate to ensure that new and existing facilities are sustainable long term. That’s why we argue strongly for a Knowle West Endowment Fund and the transfer of key Council assets into community hands.’
However, we are concerned that on the advice of London based consultants, the Council has produced options for development which contain demolition of up to 1100 homes, far higher than that proposed by our Group.
The benefits are said to include ‘showcase change’ and ‘better’ urban design but there is little evidence of benefit to existing home owners and tenants or of guaranteed social and economic regeneration outcomes.
The cost of demolition is likely to be substantial, between £17,000 and £35,000 per dwelling when environmental impact costs are added in, according to independent research. There are also substantial compensation costs involved and potentially enormous disruption to the lives of residents that could last for up to twenty years.
The group feels passionately that the community should be offered an alternative that still produces the significant change that Knowle West needs but that avoids large scale demolition of homes because it is clearly unnecessary.
Thankfully, with the support of a number of Bristol-based professionals with long experience in neighbourhood planning, architecture and economics who have given their time for free, we have been able to produce a viable alternative plan.
Our plan does not involve massive demolition of structurally sound homes many of which were built in the 1970s with an assured 100 year lifespan. Dwellings can be easily refitted to up-to-date energy standards and made more attractive. Infill development will improve housing layout. And we have calculated that up to 2,000 new dwellings can be constructed to support local schools, new shops and a range of community facilities. We believe our option involves less use of public money and less risk that the regeneration will fail to reach completion.
Knowle West can emerge as a community with a new local economy based on local green enterprise providing more jobs opportunities for local people.
Instead of the very often “negative” or “nimby” reaction to planning proposals for change, residents in Knowle West have been constructive in saying “bring on change, and this is our positive way of doing it to make the most benefit to everyone.” No longer should regeneration be something that is “done” to people, it is something that people can do for themselves. ”