Digbeth Residents Community Visioning Exercise Jan 10 2011; Paragon Hotel, Digbeth.

The purpose of the visioning exercise was: 1) to find out what residents want to see for the future for Digbeth 2) to find out how residents might go about achieving this vision Residents were asked to share their opinions and views about living in Digbeth. They were asked to consider 4 questions (see below). For each question, they were asked to write their views and opinions on ‘post-its’ (one comment per post it and as many post-its as wanted). Post-its were then placed on flip charts for the group to view and discuss as a whole. Residents were asked to share one or more of their responses with the group. A neutral facilitator was on hand to write down any comments not collected on post-its and help clarify any points of discussion. The comments/opinions below have been transcribed directly from the ‘post-‘its and are recorded verbatim. Q1 What features/qualities do you like best about Digbeth and hope to keep or preserve? • what do you think are the greatest assets or strengths? • what makes Digbeth a great place to live and/or work in?

Canals/Typhoo basin Canals and cycle lanes Gritty and down to earth Spaces which represent opportunities Arts making great use of industrial units Culture, live music and arts Pubs Community of independent pubs Lively scene Walls that are a blank canvass for graffiti Friendly people/business owners History of ethnic diversity Diversity of people/cultures Creative, exciting, Industrial, untouched Discover interesting things – viaducts, old loos etc Close to city centre Shopping (Custard Factory) Good bus services – proximity to coach station (and train) Close to the coach station Mixture of industrial and residential should be preserved. Keep out major lying developers Land, buildings and space Rich history Q2. What is your vision for how Digbeth will be in the future? • what qualities or features will Digbeth have?

what will it feel like to live and work in Digbeth?

Diversity of people and long term community Long term residents to build community Lively during day and night – actually seeing people out and about Family accommodation Lively Brighter (more colourful), lighter, safer (not to say not already safe) Utilised space – no derelict buildings Bradford St developed Pedestrian crossings Independent retailers Canal walk up to Curzon St Cafes Gardens/allotments (on currently underused land) A gorgeous Highgate Park De-centralised/few restrictions Public space Green areas or attractive areas/public space Celebrated for its gritty charm by the powers that be Great mix of arts/industry/pubs Free independent state of Digbeth run by Nicky Getgood and Adam Crossley! Retain individual character - not be another Broad St There will be no small pubs left in 2030 – BCC will still be giving out ‘B-S’ about Big City Plans, Irish Quarter etc The freedom to make interesting things happen in private property/public spaces Create a Camden Lock behind the Custard Factory Q3 What issues/challenges do you think need to be addressed to meet your vision for Digbeth? Places to live for current residents The development of derelict sites on Bradford Street Being a peripheral car park Property owners impelled to develop City centre workers’ car parks gone Environmental improvement Fewer disused buildings Pockets of development [which are disconnected] Physical barrier – need to attract people from the city centre/coach station to Digbeth Identity Vital community – want a Big Village Plan not a Big City plan! Q4 Future directions
• • • how can Digbeth’s positive features and assets be retained and enhanced? what actions can you take to meet your vision for the future? how can issues and challenges be translated into an opportunity for change and improvement?

what can you do to initiate and support plans for progress towards your vision?

A number of practical solutions were discussed. Digbeth is blighted by derelict, empty space which is likely to have no immediate new use in the current economic climate. Residents do not want to see a rush to develop these sites inappropriately – using poor design - but would like to see these sites put to good temporary uses, such as community grow sites or farmers/artisan markets. It is often unclear who owns the land and who to approach re temporary uses or what developments are planned for site. Online information hub – new, community owned and run website to bring all local news/notification of events together and bring community together Social media surgeries currently being run by Nicky Getgood to provide skills. Connaught Square – need to develop this as it is an eyesore but must adopt a fine grained approach. 2012 Festival for Birmingham - potentially using Changing Spaces Funding [Explore alternative funding Changing Spaces deadline was 7 Jan 2011] Re-use of the viaduct – elevated public park or other public use. Unclear who owns the viaduct or who to approach with potential scheme. Change perception of distance from city centre – signposting? Potential use of S106 money from proposed Bull Ring restaurant development to be used for public art welcoming people to Digbeth? ACTIONS • Feedback into Core strategy (as well as BCP) – end of consultation March 18th: Consultation draft to download can be found here: http:// consult.birmingham.gov.uk/portal/ps/csd/csdraft?tab=files ; consultation draft to comment on (online) here: http://consult.birmingham.gov.uk/portal/ps/csd/ csdraft?pointId=1542378#document-1542378 Explore further potential for Bullring S106 funding for Digbeth public art (contact Jon Lord) Explore alternative community funding sources - e.g. 2 potential Big Lottery Funds: Big Local Trust and Reaching Communities – what are other opportunities? Explore grow sites – including contacting planning dept for planning permission/landownership; find out more about GEML (Andy Sheppard); speak to other communities for practical tips/advice; Tom Pointon from FoE setting one up in Lozells; http://www.geml.info/; http:// www.growingcommunities.org/ Explore potential of organising a community ‘clean up’ day with sponsorship from local businesses; Viaduct park – contact BCC to determine ownership. Are other organisations (Friends of the Earth?) able to help moving proposals along?

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Community website – needs a champion(s). Liaise with Andy Munro business website proposals/synergy.

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