My Future York’s Helen Graham and Phil Bixby have been appointed by York Central Partnership to work on community engagement for the massive York Central development. As a Holgate resident, Joe was keen to find out more about what they’ve been up to, so grabbed Phil for a catch up:
This project has history, and there have been previous consultation exercises. Following the Castle Gateway precedent, My York Central has been set up as a project to encourage “all those interested to become part of a sustained long-term conversation where influence comes through sharing responsibility for the area and its future”. This has meant going a lot further than showing pictures and asking preferences.
Taking the already-planned six-week exhibition of masterplan proposals as a focus, we created a Festival of York Central, which included guided walks, workshops, visiting speakers and opportunities for local groups to host their own events. The first four weeks were themed on the basis of issues which cropped up most in an initial request for #MYCQuestions – Open Space, Living, Working, and Movement.
For example, the Open Space week included a guided walk around local green spaces to look at what encouraged community ownership, a walk around local streets and an evening workshop on Liveable Streets with Finlay McNab of Streets Reimagined, and an evening workshop on The Secret Life of York’s Public Spaces, facilitated by a mixed group of people who earlier did a joint urban walkabout.
Oh, and two workshops with local schoolchildren, the screening of one of The Life Sized City films, and a public workshop to develop briefing notes from the week’s discussions. These weekly briefings go back to the masterplanning team, but have also led to exciting strands to explore and develop. Discussion of affordable housing has led to investigation of community-led housing and the possibility of a community land trust, for example.
The final two weeks of the Festival will likewise be shaped by community involvement, with the positive ideas generated by the conversations so far being taken forward. A substantial amount of “what” has been identified – what kind of living, working and community do we want on York Central – so the conversation shifts more to “how”. How to shape York’s biggest development in decades? For something that major they need *a lot* of involvement. Want to be part of it?
Check www.myyorkcentral.org for upcoming events, how to get on their mailing list, and how to be part of their work. Plus how to marvel at the thousands of scanned, uploaded and tagged Post-It notes which are the trademark of My York Central’s work. Even the biggest ideas are built on the foundation of the belief that Every Post-It Counts.