IHBC Yearbook 2016

R E V I E W 27 NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING IN THE BALTIC TRIANGLE DAVE CHETWYN and GERRY PROCTOR Neighbourhood planning in England was introduced around four years ago. The implications of this new approach to the planning of local areas go beyond the 1,600 plans that are currently at various stages of preparation. It is changing the culture of planning in a wider sense, including heritage protection. Neighbourhood planning is fundamentally about a more participatory approach to planning. This includes engagement with communities from the earliest stages of the process. It is important to note that the term ‘community’ has a wide application in neighbourhood planning terms, including businesses, residents, local organisations, land and property owners and other stakeholders. Neighbourhood planning is also about community leadership, especially where neighbourhood forums lead the plan-making process, as is the case with the Baltic Triangle in Liverpool. Neighbourhood Forums have to comprise at least 21 people who live, work or are elected members in the neighbourhood area. The prospective Baltic Triangle Neighbourhood Forum, submitted to the local planning authority, includes representatives of businesses, local organisations, residents, local councillors and other stakeholders. Participatory planning has numerous advantages over more traditional forms of planning. It is gaining wider community buyin to planning growth strategies and policies, as evidenced by the robust ‘yes’ votes being achieved in neighbourhood planning referendums so far. It often brings in a wider breadth and depth of expertise, including knowledge of the local land and property market, business environment and local needs. It also involves people with a direct stake in managing their local place. The Baltic Triangle could be described as a transitional area. It is a mix of industrial and urban heritage, associated with its port context, and utilitarian industrial buildings. The survival of much industrial heritage is due to the lack of investment and economic activity in the last century, as traditional industries and the port went into decline. By the 21st century, the continuing lack of investment threatened the survival of some of that heritage. The consequent low land values, while a symptom of market failure, also made the area attractive to creative and digital-based enterprises and small businesses. There are similar areas in towns and cities around the UK, where a combination of low land values and distinctive historic and built environments act as a magnet for creative industries, small businesses and social enterprises. Such areas demonstrate one of the key ways in which heritage helps towns and cities to adapt and transform, economically and physically. Neighbourhood planning bodies tend to deal with heritage against a wide planning context. This is familiar territory for IHBC members involved in the planning, design and management of historic places. Such an approach recognises not just the cultural values of heritage, but also its social, economic and environmental values in terms of meeting the needs of current and future communities. One of the key players behind the neighbourhood plan was Engage Liverpool, an organisation supporting residents living in the city centre. In effect, Engage acted as a pollinator for the development of the neighbourhood forum. Engage Liverpool worked to bring various local organisations Constellations, the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool: designed and built by H Miller Bros and occupying a disused industrial recycling yard, the outdoor venue includes a bar, art space and community garden. (Photo: Robert Holmes)