Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Damned if you do and damned if you dont...

THE PERILS OF PRESENTING A VISION FOR REGENERATION

You can't please all the people all the time, and that's never more true than when you're presenting a vision for urban regeneration! We are all understandably concerned when there are plans afoot for the re-design and re-development of familiar local areas – even when we know there's plenty of room for improvement!

Cynicism and criticism will always abound when local authorities and regeneration companies present their version of a vision for the future of their towns and cities. As Joe Joyce, a Northampton resident, points out, “It seems the council are damned if they don't do anything and damned if they do”.

Whether it's a fear of change, a deep-rooted cynicism or a general sense that the council's priorities are all wrong, public agencies and regeneration companies are stepping into the line of fire whenever they put forward a new vision for regeneration to local residents and businesses.

At iCreate, we know only too well how this concern can impact on the presentation of new ideas and proposals. We regularly work with councils and regeneration agencies to pre-visualise areas that are set for regeneration, providing the visual aids that help communicate the vision and stimulate debate.

And with a recently completed project for West Northamptonshire Development Corporation hitting the local headlines, it's clear that the images we produce certainly stir things up! But as John Markham, leader of the WNDC, acknowledges, that's half the point: “This new concept will inevitably attract differing responses and reactions from people and we welcome that as part of the process. I think we all have an idea about what the concept includes, but positive suggestions and contributions from the public will be very welcome.”

View the recent project for Northampton Town Centre Regeneration

The key challenge facing local authorities and their development partners is to engage with the local community and other stakeholders, so that the vision for the future reflects the needs and interests of the widest possible group of people. The process of deciding what to show is not always easy - it's a matter of finding the right balance: Vague enough to avoid too much controversy, yet concrete enough to seem realistic and achievable. At iCreate, we believe that by presenting a credible and tangible vision, our clients are 'putting it out there' and getting a response – good or bad – to move the debate forward.

And, never underestimate the power of having a vision.  As Chris Holley, leader of Swansea Council points out, “When people can see what the City Centre could look like, they are more enthusiastic about the future - whether or not they agree with the specific proposals."

For advice on turning your complex strategies, masterplans and regeneration frameworks into pictures, call Dawn or Anthony today, on 0845 867 9849.

For more information about how iCreate is helping to bridge the gap between vision and reality, go to the iCreate Website

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