The Holbeck Neighbourhood Forum was held last Saturday (27 September 2014) in St Matthew’s Community Centre in Holbeck. Community members, businesses, residents and volunteers were served with hot soup and a roll. The chair of the forum, Dennis Kitchen welcomed us all to the forum and gave us an update of developments so far.
The forum through the assistance of Planning Aid UK has been going for two years. This has enabled the Holbeck Neighbourhood plan to move forward to becoming a constituted board in March 2014. The board now comprises of 12 members which have been active in the next stage consultation and engagement with the public. The plan also consists of three sub groups Content Group, Publicity Group and Projects Group.
Between these groups the plan has managed to identify areas of improvement and developed an overall vision for Holbeck. These have been broken down into areas; Environment and Green Spaces, Community Facilities, Heritage, Businesses, Traffic and Housing. It has been important to seek the views of the community to provide a sound evidence base, to take it through to the next formal stages.
A questionnaire was produced and used to consult the public over the summer. We started this at the Holbeck Gala in July. We then visited a variety of following community venues which reflected the diversity of Holbeck; The Holbeck Working Men’s Club, Messy Play parent and toddler group at St. Matthews, Ciaran Bingham’s Foundation ‘Holbeck Feast’ at Ingram Gardens community centre, Holbeck Elderly Aid HEA’rt cafe at St. Matthews and Ingram Road Primary School. Some of you may have seen us outside the Spotted Cow in the Slung Low’s Airstream at the end of August. Even though the questionnaire is long we got a really good response and quality feedback.
Once the questionnaire results have been evaluated it then becomes the ‘draft plan’ and then goes through a more formal process, which includes internal examiners report and finally a referendum due in 2016. The plan then becomes a legal policy.
John Cummins from Groundwork presented the CityConnect walk project managed by Living Streets. Their aim is to encourage more people to get out walking in their neighbourhood. This includes helping to improve accessbility routes into town and the refurbishment of Matthew Murray monument. Their project incorporates the green corridor which runs through Armley and New Wortley linking in nicely with Holbeck. They are conducting a Community Streets Audit around safety issues concerning barriers people face when choosing to walk.
Holbeck in Bloom also have funding from CityConnect to provide finger signage offering different walkways into the city from Holbeck. Their aim is to make these routes more attractive and generally improve the walking experience. This includes support from Keepmoat who have agreed to help clear areas identified for improvement. The collaborative work undertaken by these local groups and businesses will make tangible difference to how Holbeck will look for residents and the wider public for years to come.
Karen Taylor, a representative from Armstrong Priestley was also there. Karen had kindly accommodated the business section of the plan a couple of days previously (Thursday 25 September 2014) at the offices in Holbeck. This had been a successful turn out with Dennis introducing the plan to businesses new to the plan. He reminded them of the importance of their involvement in helping to create the overall vision of the plan.
There is still lots happening in the groups, and we are always looking for members of Holbeck to be involved. Look out for the Holbeck neighbourhood plan newsletter coming out soon, it will list all the activities going on over the winter months including the fireworks and Christmas light switch on! Check out the website for more information on the stages and lots more; holbeckneighbourhoodplan.org