Halton Development CIC Update
The DIO must truly engage if local people are to have a real say
Whilst supporting several elements of the DIO plans and consultation process that took place at Halton in May 2019, we remain concerned about how the process is being run and the inability for the local community to really participate. We also note that the programme is clearly evolving also, given the changes to the unitary authority due April 2020, and the announcement that Halton’s closure is now forecast for 2025/6.
Nevertheless, the HDCIC continues to maintain local support for a more proactive, expansive place making programme for Halton for the benefit of the local community, and our position remains unchanged, this being
– a more imaginative approach to the Halton site that considers the unique assets, spaces and industry that is there now and was there in the recent past
– not only great housing that appeals to young and old, richer and poorer, but industry and enterprise that can bring vibrancy, jobs and innovation
– our request for an active role in managing the drawdown and can help with specific assets, land parcels and active management of assets
– an exciting plan for sports facilities and training to a national standard alongside participation for all
Throughout 2019 we shared these ideas with TV LEP, AVDC, Bucks Property management, and HDCIC interested parties/members.
We remain optimistic of opinion at Government level, indeed their own published papers and positive statements support the idea of giving local communities even more say and control over local development, beyond that described in the Localism Act. In a Housing, Communities and Local Government paper from last July, the previous Minister of Housing notes that only 26% of locals feel able to influence local plans. It states that there should be more ‘transferring power and control down within communities’ and ‘asset transfer to communities’, with better provision for access to finance for housing and leisure facilities and shared ventures with local authorities on community ventures with social impact. We could not agree more.
However, we contend that the practical application of this approach is severely lacking with regards to the Halton development. The community continues to be presented with plans and invited to comment rather than the co-operative approach envisioned by Government.
Our voice in the process has been lacking to date, particularly from DIO to HDCIC, and we once again reach out to share our expertise, local perspective and passion for great place making. So far our offer to take on the Sports Pavilion as a community asset, our desire to input into the development of the land to build true communities rather than simply housing, and to progress the sports facilities and plans, have received little engagement.
In summary we continue to engage with several parties and will reach out to more still, such as our newly elected MP but greater inclusion from the DIO is if we are all to have a real say in the future of the site.